Old Time Machine
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Old Time Machine

| INDIE | AFM

| INDIE | AFM
Band Folk Americana

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Jul
19
Old Time Machine @ Dawson City Music Festival

Dawson City, Yukon, Canada

Dawson City, Yukon, Canada

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Old Time Machine is one of the most original debuts in years.

Ryan McNally and Kyle Cashen originally were following very different creative paths as Canadian musicians. When they came together to make music, I doubt either of them had any idea how brilliant their combination would be. Ryan sings and plays a kick drum, hi-hats, guitar, banjo, mandolin, and ukelele. Kyle utilizes a drum machine, echo, a pedal bass, floor tom, ride cymbal, snare, and tambourine. Both are veritable one man bands who face each other onstage and hold their own. Together, they make up Old Time Machine and have just released their self-titled debut album- and it’s brilliant. Old Time Machine is full of unique ideas filtered through an old lens, in a similar vein to a lot of Tom Waits’ best material, which Old Time Machine is almost on par with. Praise doesn’t get much higher than that.

“Sun Burns Out” immediately gets some dust kicked up and is absolutely riveting in virtually every facet of its execution. McNally is revealed as an incredible songwriting talent, offering up one of the years best opening verses and then continuously matching and exceeding it throughout the course of Old Time Machine. Which is especially surprising considering how easy it would’ve been to falter after such an outstanding opening track, all rustic fire with a gorgeous string and vocal accompaniment. “I’m gonna love you baby ‘til the sun burns out” is as bold of a poetic statement one can make and this song is one of the best someone can listen to.

If any thoughts of subsequent failure were entertained, then “Doin’ All I Can Do” immediately annihilates them, offering up another highlight, something that Old Time Machine never runs out of. The way these songs are filtered not only play up the overall effect to the greatest possible strength, they make them stand out. It’s incredibly hard not to notice something that’s this perfectly realized. That realization is never lost sight of for the entirety of Old Time Machine, which is easily 2012’s strongest full-length debut thus far. Just when you think you’ve got Old Time Machine figured out, though, they pull a trick out of nowhere and execute that to perfection as well, continuously broadening their sound in subtle ways.

That’s a feat that becomes noticeable by the third track, “Pouring Rain”, which is as much of a foot-stomper as the first two tracks. Around this section of Old Time Machine where the words instant classic might start creeping up as a possibility. The way everything flows together in “Pouring Rain” (and every other song on Old Time Machine) is nothing short of astounding. Sounds that aren’t normally associated with each other become the most complementary things imaginable and the band uses them for all their worth and then some. As always, the lyrics are somewhat unbelievable in how perfect they are themselves in both “Pouring Rain” and the following track, “Mountain Shack”.

“Mountain Shack” opens with an insanely detailed narrative of a walk through a town right down to the outstanding lean “I lean on the fender, watch the people go by, notice the girl that I love, she don’t show me her eyes”. It’s small moments like those that continuously materialize effortlessly on Old Time Machine that are strong enough to knock the wind out of the listener. The attention to detail and craft demonstrated throughout the entirety of Old Time Machine is second to none. This isn’t just original music of the highest possible caliber, it’s transcendental of time itself.

Its timelessness is only confirmed by “Feel So Cold” in which one would be forgiven if they were to mistake McNally’s vocals for Dan Auerbach’s. The similarity isn’t particularly evident until that point because, frankly, the music that McNally’s making actually feels more important. Instead of trying to resurrect the delta blues, Old Time Machine’s turned to Tom Waits’ example and created their own peculiar strain of it. “Feel So Cold” is - Pop Matters


There's a certain ethos to roots music. An army of strings (banjo, mandolin, acoustic guitar, fiddle); lyrics about displaced emotions; a nod to rural or small-town life; a sense of defeat; a yarn about Mother Nature. And certainly the list goes on. But at the heart of it, there is a definitive pulse, a distinct sense of spirit that keeps the genre from growing tired or distant. The Canadian duo Old Time Machine seem to understand said ethos and their self-titled debut album is veritable proof of this notion. The album opens with the dusty "Sun Burns Out," in which an acoustic guitar strums and the light prattle of a drum unravels a standard heartland ditty. As far as opening salvos go, "Sun Burns Out," leaves a bit to be desired, but certainly sets the ground work for an album that truly gets better as it goes along.

The disc's first winning moment is "Doin' All I Can," a jaunty and inspired effort that could probably be used as a single. There's a definitive hook and a cheery feel to it that feels both commercial and familiar. Though it ends before the three-minute mark, there's a definite sense of promise and passion and highlights the greatness that is still waiting in the wings. "Pouring Rain," follows and feels like a mix of the first two. There's times where the song feels bland and uninteresting and others where it has a palpable sense of achievement and importance. One thing is for certain, when "Pouring Rain," ends, one can certainly stop and give the duo credit for both arrangement and structure.

Like any true roots album, "Mountain Shack," is the back porch beacon and feels culled from an early summer morning. While the vocals at times feel underwhelming, the verses and vernal aura it creates help make the song both amiable and engaging. The disc's second apex moment is most assuredly "Through the Window," a subdued and understated gem that is nothing short of gorgeous. Vocally the duo hits on everything that makes them great and from start to finish there is nary a flaw to be found. If there is one song to be plucked from Old Time Machine, make sure it is most definitely Through the Window.

And it is on "Through the Window," where the disc turns upward and makes a true dent. The banjo-laden "Feel So Cold," sounds threadbare, haggard and weary, almost as if the previous five songs have worn the duo thin. That sense of disappointment and defeat is revisited in "Where The Hell Are We," a near-masterpiece and arguably the disc's best song.

Penultimate cut "May As Well Be Night," is hazy and languorous and the pronounced sense of fatigue on the previous two efforts is revisited once again. Heartbreak and loss are certainly the hallmarks of first-rate roots music and Old Time Machine seem to understand this. And almost fittingly, Old Time Machine finishes things off with "Tearing Me Down," a mandolin-fueled effort that is surprisingly hopeful, uplifting and in many ways, majestically triumphant.

When the disc rounds to a close, the consensus is too hard to ignore. Old Time Machine have crafted a dazzling work of first-rate roots music. If this is just the beginning, then we are indeed in store for something truly potent. These Canucks are on the precipice of something truly ground-breaking. The watershed moments on this LP are veritable proof of exactly that. - AbsolutePunk.net


Talk about a quick turnaround- a little over two months ago Old Time Machine did a split EP with fellow Yukon act Old Cabin, and now Old Time Machine has got a full-length record. What I did expect, and received, was innovative, powerful music. What I did not expect and also received (and subsequently enjoyed) was a lot of banjo. But I’ll get to that.

Those who did hear the aforementioned split EP will recognize the opening and closing tracks; “Sun Burns Out” and “Tearing Me Down” respectively. Both songs have become almost engrained in my memory.

The new songs are all strong as well. The duo that makes up Old Time Machine, Ryan McNally and Kyle Cashen, have an undeniable chemistry. Rarely does a combination of a kick drum and banjo produce such power. While the banjo might conjure the image of an overalls-wearing Southerner sitting on a front porch, I never once thought to categorize any of Old Time Machine’s songs as country-sounding. The banjo plays an important role in several songs.

My favourite banjo tune on the record is “Through the Window” if only because it’s so self-referential. There’s a steady banjo riff that plays throughout the song, and at one point McNally sings “If you wanna find me I’ll be out playing banjo in the rain.” It’s quite an image, too. “Doin’ All I Can Do” struck me as whimsical, and “Mountain Shack” is a song that experiments with instrumentation, particularly toward the end that features a lot of whirring.

“Feel So Cold” is a striking song, featuring a ukulele instead of a banjo. It’s a simple song about love, but again, with the dynamic this band has, it takes on a new dimension. There’s also a pretty universal lyric at one spot: “I used to love somebody just like a precious jewel/No I’m no man in love, ain’t nothin’ but a fool.”

“Where the Hell We Are” and “May As Well Be Night” both return to the guitar as the main instrument, the latter of which features echoing drums that make the song feel a little trippy.

There really isn’t a band out there like Old Time Machine. Plain and simple.

Get the album via Bandcamp. To get a taste of the album you can stream “Pouring Rain” below.

Top Tracks: “Pouring Rain”; “Feel So Cold”

Rating: Proud Hoot (Really Good) +*swoop* - Grayowl Point


Old Time Machine might sound like a bit of a contradiction in terms, but, well, that's sort of the point. The Whitehorse-based band have a penchant for mixing styles both old and new, and they're looking to establish a sound that's all their own when they release their self-titled debut LP on April 10 via File Under: Music.

A press release notes that the band's style mixes Ryan McNally's blues fingerpicking with Kyle Cashen's "ethereal soundscapes." Using a combination of live instruments and vintage analog electronics, the band recorded their album with producer Jordy Walker and arrived upon a "sound that feels like it should be heard playing on a tube radio in a dimly lit bar."

You can get a taste of what's in store by listing to the gruff album cut "Pouring Rain" at the bottom of this page.

It's bound to be interesting to hear how this material comes across live, so be sure to check out these two multi-instrumentalists when they hit the road in Canada this spring. Scroll past the album tracklist to see the schedule. - Exclaim!


Discography

Old Time Machine/Old Cabin - Split EP

Old Time Machine - Self Titled

Photos

Bio

Thursday, February 26, 2009. 10am. Ryan McNally and Kyle Cashen sit in a fort made of cardboard boxes, scrap lumber, thrift store bed sheets and chicken-wire. Among the second-hand lamps, rugs, and video game consoles the two have come together for an art exhibition about the dark days of winter. The theme resonates with everyone who experiences the chill of winter in Canada, but is particularly poignant in the band’s birthplace of Whitehorse, Yukon.

Old Time Machine started here as the art-show contribution of a bluesman and a bedroom-musician. The duo works to blend McNally’s studies of finger style traditional blues with Cashen’s experience crafting ethereal soundscapes to create familiar but distinctly original music.

Their work started when Ryan put forward a handful of songs departing from his solo writing. Kyle eagerly filled spaces with reverb-soaked vocals and backbeats. With a handful of songs and a mountain of stringed instruments, analog machines and effects, drums, and mics, between them, McNally and Cashen began combining traditional sounding folk structures with ghostly harmonies and vintage electronics.

The pair were later joined in the studio by producer and engineer Jordy Walker and the group developed a sound that feels like it should be heard playing on a tube radio in a dimly lit bar.

Ryan sings and plays a kick drum and high hats while rotating guitar, banjo, mandolin, and ukulele. Kyle uses echo, drum machines, a pedal bass, floor tom, ride cymbal, snare, and tambourine. Together the two are a duo of one-man bands facing one another across a sea of percussion, strings, and wood-paneled devices.

The band strikes a balance between references to the early days of pop and rock music, dreamy textures, and even elements of hip-hop. Old Time Machine finds a way to embrace their influences while sounding unmistakably new.