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Pottstown, Pennsylvania, United States | SELF

Pottstown, Pennsylvania, United States | SELF
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Oh boog, little boog, how you slay us. We remember fondly the days when you nervously played in clubs you were not even old enough to drive yourself to. Now, you not only drive yourself, but bring forth with you your tall, sultry, smoking-hot, upright-bass playing girlfriend. Oh, and what’s that, little mister insists on no capital “B“, in his name? You are leaving your fair city to go to Norway, you say? Ah, homeland of the Tall-Sultry-Smoking-Hots. What’s that? You’re only returning for mere weeks before you take your Tom Waits Jr. soundin’ self on a fall tour down south to support your new album, “The Walking Club”? Sigh. Our baby bird, he has flown the Philly folk-rock nest.
Oh mah Gawd! Was that epic? Poetic? Intelligent? Emotional? Well, yeah… I didn’t really think so either, but it’s really the best I could do to summon up words that convey my abundant love for this man’s music, especially being as hungover from hot dogs and beer as I am. And you know what? Even if I’m not, boog certainly is epic, poetic, and all the rest of those adjectives -go listen to “Confession” on his Myspace ( Poor yittle guy, he gots hims heartbroked.
Kyle Simmons is boog, a 20-year-old musician with a record collection older (and taller) than he is. He is, as old hippies say, an “old soul.” boog’s songs sing of strife, pain, Philadelphia, women, the juxtaposition of modern technology and music -the dude is seriously over my head. He is so smart it’s scary, and so wise that he probably could give Mr. Waits and his 60+ years a run for their money. “The Walking Club” offers a more polished boog than we have previously seen, but by no means is this a Beyoncé record. This music is rough, filled with crooning and bluesy guitar riffs that sound like they were recorded in a cave -sweet!

“The Walking Club,” is the latest effort by Philadelphia-based musician Kyle Simmons, alias boog, and it is his first true album.  Though boog has released demo CDs and EPs before, none have matched the polish, maturity, and depth of “The Walking Club.”  It is a diverse offering of songs, each bearing the distinctive style of a most distinctive musician.
When I first listened to the album, I was drawn to a series of songs.  “Valentine Party Pts. I, II, & III” form the strong undercurrent that directs the movement of all other songs on “The Walking Club.”  As separate entities, they contain an encyclopedia’s worth of musical genres; together, they betray boog’s classical learnedness.  
Like many classical composers, boog crafts a memorable musical hook—or, more appropriately, a motif—that repeats in each “Valentine Party.”  And, like the best composers, boog ensures the motif changes and shifts adding to the warp and weft of the album. 
But the other tracks are not window dressing.  Each song has its place in the pattern and each highlights boog’s counterintuitive guitar playing, strong lyricism, and singular way of singing.
boog’s voice—at times frantic, at times slurred, yet always passionate—often sounds disconcerting and uncontrolled, but this is deliberate.  His voice constantly engages in brilliant counterpoint with his lyrics.  To the casual listener, he sounds as though he doesn’t care about what he sings; to the intentional listener, he cares deeply.  
boog is an imposing lyricist.  His song, “Burs,” illustrates this. 
“Burs” is a song about the decay and downfall of a house and of a family within that house.  It belongs to a tradition of “fallen family” poems as ancient as they are diverse, easily taking its place among T.S. Eliot’s “Gerontion,” William Shakespeare’s “King Lear,” and Tom Waits’s “The House Where Nobody Lives.”
The song’s title, “Burs,” is worthy of some reflection and investigation.  As a noun, a bur can be (among other things) either a clinging seed or a rough edge.  As an adjective, burred wood is a wood containing knots and growths that show a pattern of dense swirls.  A composite definition best explains this song: there are people and things hanging on, rough edges needing to be smoothed, and a hardness and density that encapsulates “The Walking Club” in its entirety.
The song begins after a funeral, when the presence of death still lingers.  Upon arriving back home, the singer “Pour[s] coffee,” and “brew[s] it twice just to keep it around.”  He can bring back the coffee, but he can not bring back the departed.  Like all good lyrics, this simple image of a simple act carries tremendous weight.  Though never mentioned, the departed sticks to the speaker: the first bur.
But, like many tragedies, the sorrow starts small then quickly grows.  The funeral is merely a catalyst to what lies ahead.  When the father takes off work “more for [them] than for him,” he angers his employers who then proffer this malum valere: “times being what they are / We’re going to have to start / To cut the chaff from the wheat.”  The father is viewed as unnecessary, weak, and troublesome and is subsequently smoothed out of his job: the second bur.
At the third verse, the singer turns from the family and addresses the listener, turning the family’s misfortune into a cautionary tale set in a mythic landscape.  Here, “sleeping dogs lie still in the ruins” of civilizations, homes, and lives.  If they are disturbed, the speaker warns, “don’t be surprised / To see one tarry by your feet / Once he’s picked up on your scent.”  In an ironic reversal—burs often attach themselves to dogs—the mythic hellhounds, those relentless scavengers, attach themselves to the fallen.  Fittingly, the song ends with the shill, ominous barking of a dog in the near distance: the final, complex burring.
The words “ambitious” and “fleeting” are not often joined with the word “successful,” but in this case I can think of no better union.  boog’s “The Walking Club” is an impressive and important album: a work wherein the artist’s high ambitions are successfully realized—a shame that, at twenty three minutes, this excellent experience ends far too quickly.    - Ross Cohen


'Baby Owl & Little Fish' - used in Pat Taggart's film '99 Percent Sure,' 2009.

boog - Demo, 2009.

The Walking Club, June 10th, 2010.



boog (with a little ‘b’) is a product of hard work and dreams. The son of a factory worker and warehouse supervisor, Kyle Simmons wears a blue collar beneath all his shirts. Nicknamed ‘boog’ at birth, Kyle only began to appreciate the gravity of the moniker as a high school sophomore, already knee-deep in original songs, lo-fi recordings, handprinted tshirts, and self-published chapbooks of original poetry. ‘Kyle’ couldn’t contain the young man’s enterprising nature; this was ‘boog.’

By age sixteen, boog was already gaining attention for his harsh yet intuitive pick-less strumming, twitchy live antics, and soul-crushingly intense vocal delivery. Out of the strong influences of Elvis Costello, Tom Waits, Nick Cave, Emily Haines, Lead Belly, and Hank Williams came what is now boog's trademark sound. Headlining hot-spots in the Philadelphia suburbs, such as Steel City Coffeehouse, Chaplin’s, Burlap & Bean, and The Arts Scene, he filled his ‘spare time’ with basement, house, and record store shows. This wasn’t enough, not even for a working high school student and eventual Salutatorian; boog’s gigging appetite was voracious. Graduation saw boog move to Philadelphia to attend Temple U, his HQ as he recorded dorm demos and osmosed into Philly’s folk revival, with shows at The Fire, Connie’s Ric-Rac, and Danger Danger Gallery.

But boog was done with ‘music on the side.’ In winter 2009, he left Temple to write and record an album by himself in the confines of his parents’ Pottstown, PA, attic. Except for one piano track, the entirety of The Walking Club was written, performed, mixed, and produced singlehandedly by boog between January and June 2010. Utilizing Protools (an intentional irony), 4-track tape, a roadside chord organ, and even his dog, boog managed to create a realm out of the past, where spirits are free to enterprise, to be angry, to question, and to breathe without the hand of media technology resting on their shoulders. The Walking Club is tainted, brutal, devastating, and real. And boog is serious about it.

October 2010 sees boog touring to support The Walking Club through the southern and mid-western US.