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"Pitchfork: Let's Drag Our Feet! Album Review"

Boys with perpetual colds who can kinda-sorta sing, hand claps of the generic indie variety, and the unfettered production made most odious/ingenious by Wolf Parade are three features of BOAT's second album on Magic Marker. This lengthy collection of fuzzy, crackling lo-fi jams does little more than their debut to convince us of the band's merit, but I mean that as a compliment. Their viscous sound, with each instrumental part given equally muffled or tinny weight, at times yields some heavy little rock lullabies. The makeshift, ad-lib familiarity of the songs are, as is often the case with this genre, what makes them accessible and enjoyable; for the melodies to dig to a more sophisticated depth is an added bonus; and for them to avoid the anemic desperation of Spencer Krug is all right, too.

As members of Seattle's prolific rock scene, BOAT differentiate themselves most explicitly with songs like "The Ferocious Sounds of Lobsters and Snakes/Mom, Dad, Me and You", the first part of which has been floating around the Internet for a couple of years. Here, it takes on a re-recorded cleanliness, the tempo slowed just slightly and the guitar itching for a more substantial role than the easy two-note plucks in the chorus. The lyrics here, as elsewhere on the album, are comfortingly cliché: "Don't you know, everything will be all right/ Don't you know, everything will be just fine." The song is dead simple and inexplicably addictive.

Such conciliatory ruminations appear in many tracks, but are often unintelligible thanks to the band's penchant for basements. But when the words want to reach us, they really do, albeit as adorably stupid adages: "All I want's a telephone that rings for free," "There's a lightbulb in your head/ If you break it you'll be dead," or a helpful suggestion about not being able to fall asleep if one drinks too many sodas. The lyrics are often role-playing in nature, particularly suggestive of an adult borrowing the voice of his parents to speak to his childhood self. Less enjoyable are the "ooh"s and handclaps of "Illustrate the History (When I Grow Up)", a sound too many times tried and sold, and which here says nothing new. More interesting is what follows, "The Whistle Test", which howls a little higher, a bit like Man Man's meowing habit, then slows to a trot for a closely recorded chorus with long keyboard notes that enhance the longing mood. Both the song's colorations, which alternate several times, are sophisticated, the faster portion letting the drums take the spotlight with a quick, complicated rhythm that settles down for the pleasantly dreary chorus.

The cheap production of these songs still allows for invention and different shades from the same instrumentation: the wall of noise of the synths in "Period, Backlash, Colon", the pretty vocals on "A Phone that Rings for Free", or the effects on the lovely closing minutes of "Gold Veins (This One Hotel)". Often what collects the drunken mess of the songs into an elegant pile, as in the case of "Veins", is D. Crane's vocals, which have the dexterity to volubly pack themselves in or stretch out over the course of the instruments' finicky tempos. But there are only a handful of songs that really delve immediately into our mind's ear and stay there, the rest still benefiting from their intra-song variety and general subversion to predictable structure. Showmates of the Shaky Hands, BOAT offer fewer hits but more keepsakes, with many of their songs becoming more adhesive as they simmer and soften over time.

* MySpace: http://www.myspace.com/boatmusic
* MP3: BOAT: (I'm a) Donkey for Your Love

- Liz Colville, July 6, 2007 - Pitchforkmedia


"The Stranger Interrogates D. Crane (BOAT)"

You're playing at the Showbox on July 5, opening for the Cops and the Long Winters. That's a big room.

The Showbox is the biggest place we have ever played. We are bringing our friend Ricky up from Portland to make us a super, five-piece BOAT. We will have extra vocals, bell kits, tambourines, keyboards, and Ricky is going to add saxophone to several songs. More Clarence Clemons than Kenny G. Imagine if Clarence Clemons and Buddy Holly had a baby—it would look kind of like Ricky. We haven't decided yet if we will be making confetti for the show. My paper cutter needs to be sharpened. But we are only playing songs that we consider anthems.

Have you been using confetti at practices?

We have. It's actually quite a sight to behold. We have this drummer Jackson who's way into the confetti, and we'll get to the chorus and he'll go: "Shower me!" And he knows it's pretty horrible to say that to a group of guys. Just like, "Shower me!" So we've kind of trashed the room. We share it with a heavy-metal band.

Where do you practice?

Well, I used to live in a duplex on Beacon Hill and we'd play in the basement. We lived next to these drug dealers who were not going to call the cops for anything, so we got lucky. I think they were just selling weed. But people would pull up in front and they would go out with a bag and, like, put it through the window and take cash. It was so out in the open. One time we saw a gun—some guy flashed a gun in the kitchen. I think he was just messing with it. But we were always scared someone was going to come to our door thinking we were them. Anyway, this family moved in and we couldn't practice anymore, so we got this place down by the stadium, one of those practice-space buildings, which isn't very inspirational.

Your music seems very grounded in the wonder of being young.

Yeah, I guess so. We used to play in my basement with karaoke machines, just messing around. And then one time we called the Beacon Pub—I don't know if you're familiar, it's a pretty terrible bar on Beacon Hill. Not really dangerous, but it's a sadder bar. And we asked, "Could we have a show?" We thought it was the biggest thing ever. It was just so much joy to be able to play like a real band. And then, over time, playing with Harvey Danger or playing with the Long Winters—like, we listen to that on our own, on our way to work. And then on the weekend to get to go play with Harvey Danger? It's kind of magical. There's no way it could not be pretty glorious.

There seems to be an endless supply of happiness in your songs.

I'm not sure they are always happy. Most of the songs are usually caught up in images that have a certain positive identity or direct sentimental connection with me. Ice-cream trucks on Beacon Hill ("Period, Backslash, Colon"), bumming out my wife by eating the leftovers ("Last Cans of Paint"), worrying about dying, then feeling stupid about wasting time worrying about dying ("The Whistle Test"). I guess not all the songs are happy. But they are kind of like cartoons of what I am thinking about. And cartoons make you smile, even if they are kind of dark.

Why are there so many BOAT songs about history and punctuation and parts of speech?

Just from teaching that stuff to sixth graders day in and day out.

According to your MySpace page, BOAT sounds like: "Reptile boy vocals being sung in the same room with many guitars, a bass, two drum sets, a Wurlitzer, several keyboards, mediocre talent, fragile egos, some soft tacos, a piece of pizza, and several Diet Cokes." What are "reptile boy" vocals?

When I was little in New Jersey and walked to school, there was this bridge. And the kids who hung out there were kind of rough. They'd go down and look for anything living in the creek, and they'd just fuck with it. Like, if it was a turtle they'd throw rocks at it. And so one time I tried to save a turtle, and I ended up taking it out of the creek and bringing it up into the trees. So they called me reptile boy. Anyway, reptile boy vocals are about just going for it, even if your voice quavers or squeaks.

What's it like being creative and living in Tacoma simultaneously?

I like it because there's parking. You can park. You can get wherever you want. I mean, it's not cool, but there's more space. More privacy. There's not bands everywhere.

How was that pizza?

I usually get more. recommended

BOAT play Sat July 5, Showbox at the Market, 8 pm, $16, 21+. With the Long Winters and the Cops.
- Christopher Frizzele (Arts Editor The Stranger)


"Pitchfork: Topps Review"

New Music: BOAT: "Topps" [MP3/Stream]

The new 7" EP by Seattle's BOAT comes with five hand-drawn baseball cards, a piece of "crunchy/sugary/pink" bubblegum, and a ticket to download all the EP's four songs (plus a bonus track) as mp3s. How awesome that idea sounds to you will probably have a very high correlation with how much you like "Topps", the EP's title track, named after the longest-running baseball card manufacturer (sorry, Bowman). The guileless vocals and shambling sounds of BOAT's two albums for Portland-based Magic Marker, 2006's Songs That You Might Not Like and 2007's Let's Drag Our Feet established the band as a peer of twee-poppers like labelmates Tullycraft, but frontman D. Crane always had something of Stephen Malkmus' whimsical misdirection. The ex-Pavement leader's scraggly guitar heroics come more to the fore on "Topps", which uses the setting of a backyard baseball game for an epiphany that the narrator is-- despite his wife, his job, his 5. a.m. commute, his friends in every town-- still the kid who loves his parents. "When I learned to read/ I read my baseball cards," Crane sings at the scruffily anthemic coda. Hey, me too. - Pitchforkmedia


"SPIN.com Band of the Day"

Who? BOAT started as a basement pastime of D. Crane (vocals/guitar/keys) after returning to Seattle from a fruitless stint in Chi-town. A revolving door roster of friends and musical acquaintances fleshed out BOAT's self-released full-length Life is a Shipwreck and the After All EP, but the Portland, Ore.-based label Magic Marker signed on for 2006's Songs That You Might Not Like. With Let's Drag Our Feet! (in stores July 10th via Magic Marker), the band has finally committed to M. McKenzie (bass) and J. Goodman (drums), further anchoring BOAT's sturdy indie rock appeal.

What's the deal? Generally, BOAT feels like Modest Mouse filtered through '60s pop radio, though various influences adorn the new album. "Come With Me, We'll Win" bleeds a barroom wail into a loping slither, and the seemingly Kinks-inspired "Illustrate the History" warps into a mono acoustic Jack White-meets-Britt Daniel-like ditty on "When I Grow Up." For all anyone knows, "Make Way For the Genius to Appear" might actually be Isaac Brock fronting Pavement. Still, lulling guitars, brooding vocals and non-sequitur lyrics make "The Ferocious Sounds of Lobsters and Snakes" BOAT's most essential track.

Fun Fact: Two of BOAT's three members are teachers. For the next school year, drummer J. Goodman and vocalist/guitarist D. Crane have secret plans to use incoming 4th and 6th graders as a show poster-making factory. With glues sticks, crayons, staplers, some glitter and felt, BOAT plan on taking their concert posters to the next level. Crane tells SPIN.com, "We will definitely be teaching an events promotion unit in Social Studies." GARY L. BLACKWELL, JR. - SPIN.com


"Popmatters Reviews Let's Drag Our Feet!"

If you heard anything of BOAT’s debut, Songs That You Might Not Like, it’ll come as no surprise the Seattle band’s been busy since about this time last year when that album came out. The trio of teachers may not be ready to quit their day jobs, but their music doesn’t sound like a hobby. Ditching the Muppets impressions in favour of more straightforward indie pop, thankfully BOAT hasn’t ditched the personality. Instead, Let’s Drag Our Feet tightens and ratchets up musicianship, with almost entirely successful results.

The songs on BOAT’s debut album were compiled from snippets composed over a long period of time, and it showed in the final product: seventeen songs whose jumble of ideas hit as often as they missed, but either way passed by too quickly. Let’s Drag Our Feet, in comparison, is a cousin: though there are still tendencies to brevity, the group has evolved. Ideas are more fully explored and, once in a while, we even get to revel in a moment or two of pure texture. The material here is presented in a similar way to their previous work—both albums recorded in a basement, with a decidedly amateur-sounding, low-fi sheen. It works here, because it lends these upbeat compositions the authenticity of real emotion.

Singer David Crane has described his songs as “cartoons of real life” and, like cartoons, these songs are pretty simplistic. It’s part of their joy that they embrace both musical and lyrical cliché – but the good nature the band brings to their music easily carries us along despite the suspicion we’ve heard similar before. There are plenty of bands that BOAT sound like—Islands, Tapes ‘n’ Tapes, sometimes Figurines. But that’s not really a prominent feature of listening to the band. Instead, you’re carried by the exuberance and the easy melodies. “(I’m a) Donkey for Your Love” is all edgy falsetto and confident romanticism, with a killer chorus. “The Ferocious Sounds of Lobsters and Snakes / Mom, Dad, You, Me” demonstrates how simplicity, guitar arpeggios and cliché ("everything will be just fine") still work—it’s rock’s good old hold over us.

When the band lets their songs breathe, as on “The Whistle Test”, the results are mostly sweetly compelling. That track halts, starts up again, and finds continuity with a sweet la-la, ooh-ooh line echoed by melodica and Wurlitzer treble countermelodies. But the trick of tacking two short, unrelated songs together into one track (the band does it four times on the album) is really a cop-out. In the absence of any easily-unraveled thematic linkage, the conceit is just a mechanism to increase the melody count without fully dealing with each idea. BOAT obviously has a bunch of great pop songs still to be written, but they’re only cheating themselves by stuffing two into one, so often.

Because the ideas are good, you’re often left wishing for another chorus, another verse. Crane’s got a knack for imagery – the ice cream truck in “Period, Backslash, Colon” is a signifier of deep nostalgia—and the material’s good for at least a few more repetitions. As they stand, though, these songs invite the listener to return, listen again, and hear greater depth in the fleeting melodies. This ramshackle pop sound’s got BOAT through a second commendable album, and there’s plenty more potential to be mined. - Popmatters


"Gorilla Vs. Bear on Songs That You Might Not Like"

Thursday, July 20, 2006
songs that you might not like



I discovered Seattle's BOAT thanks to Matt's posts on the band, and now that I've obtained a copy of their new full-length, Songs That You Might Not Like, I can't stop listening. Their sound has been coined "sloppy pop," and that's pretty spot-on (only in the best sense of the word, sort of like The Unicorns.)

The record contains "clapping/snapping/whistling/guitar solos/saxophone sounding accordians/bleeping keyboards/distorted piano/oohs/la la's/shouting/singing/even some broken theremin sounds," yet BOAT's somehow able to rein all those elements in to create playful, catchy-as-hell pop jams that will lodge themselves into your heads and your hearts and refuse to come out.

Many of these gems (including both of the following tracks) clock in either under or right at two minutes long, yet still manage to feel fully-developed and entirely satisfying:

BOAT Holding All the Globes mp3
BOAT Cans of Paint mp3

Purchase Songs That You Might Not Like (you will) here for only $10 - Gorilla Vs. Bear


"You Ain't No Picasso: Donkey For Your Love"

"(BOAT)...snuck up and delivered one of the year's best pop tunes."

While everyone was busy looking out for that other Magic Marker release (Tullycraft), one of their other ace bands snuck up and delivered one of the year’s best pop tunes on what is (presumably) going to be a stand-out record. Let’s Drag Our Feet! is due out on Magic Marker June 10.

Think of this as the twee answer to “Beast of Burden.” In this one, BOAT frontman David Crane melds together a gloriously falsetto’ed-out melody with a chorus that’ll jolt you out of your seat to sing lyrics so beautifully absurd that you’ll be smiling the whole while: “I’m a donkey for your love / I’ll carry you on my back / These bones are made of steel / These bones, they cannot crack.” The real magic here, though, is that BOAT never let you get very far in the song before hitting you with something wonderful. For example, check out the layer-upon-layer building of the outro. - You Ain't No Picasso


"The Stranger Suggests: What you need is a dose of BOAT"

It's dark, your hoodie's wet, the wind hates you, the things you love are closing at an alarming rate, and you haven't heard a song that's made you happy since August. What you need is a dose of BOAT. Loud, gorgeous, reverby guitars? Yes. A let's-just-have-a-fun-time attitude? Yes. A charming frontman? Yes. Songs about ice-cream trucks, haircuts, and punctuation? Yes, but not in an annoying way. I will be dancing. Don't you want to dance? Other bands on the bill: the awesome "Awesome" and the dangerous Harvey Danger. CHRISTOPHER FRIZZELLE (The Stranger; 12/27/07) - The Stranger


"Portland Mercury features: Pleasure Vessal: BOAT is a little too fun"

Without fail, your elementary school teacher had a desk drawer that was always sealed with a lock and key, a glorious treasure trove of seized good-time contraband that was only cracked open when new booty was captured, or, on the last day of the year, when—good behavior pending—all your Super Balls, wind-up chattering teeth, Micro Machines, and switchblade combs were returned to you. But of course, every kid with a half-decent imagination knows the real truth: Once the students go home, the teachers get liquored up, crack open the captured toy drawer, and play with the apprehended goods like there is no tomorrow. Evidently, teachers like to have fun too.

Proof of this might be the loose-knit Seattle pop band, BOAT. Two-thirds of the band pay the bills as school teachers, which is downright alarming when you consider how much fun these grownups are having, toy drawer or not. The songs on their latest album, Let's Drag Our Feet!, sparkle with the carefree charm of Tullycraft and maintain the playful jangle and lyrical sincerity of Built to Spill's There's Nothing Wrong with Love. The biggest hurdle for this trio is finding time to stop grading tests and start recording music.

According to singer/guitarist Dave Crane, "We usually record on Christmas break. Then we usually try to put the album out before summer, and during that time, we tour."

The structure of BOAT is that of very simple pop songs, almost remedial at times, played with a maximum dosage of fun. It's a little odd how simple this setup is, especially considering the emotional heft each song wields. That's all well and good, but all that really matters is what sort of detained goodies does Mr. Crane have locked in his desk drawer at school? "I have toy skateboards, a couple bouncy balls, Kool-Aid packets... nothing too exciting." Not exciting to him, maybe, but to some kid missing his fingerboard and packet of Incrediberry Kool-Aid, the contents of that drawer mean everything. (July 12, 2007) - Portland Mercury


Discography

Songs That You Might Not Like (2006)
Let's Drag Our Feet! (2007)
Topps EP (2008)

These releases have all been in rotation on KEXP, and received glowing reviews from Pitchfork, NPR, Popmatters, and SPIN online.

Photos

Bio

BOAT started in 2005 as a lofi/basement project of D. Crane. With help from M. McKenzie, J. Goodman, and J. Long, BOAT has become a veritable Seattle sloppy pop powerhouse.

Their shows are often filled with homemade shakers, confetti, and lots of fun.