the gifted children
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the gifted children

Buffalo, New York, United States | INDIE

Buffalo, New York, United States | INDIE
Band Alternative Avant-garde


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"Selection of Press Quotes"

"The Gifted Children have survived long enough now to become the elder statesmen (and women) of Buffalo indie rock. From the mid-’90s onward, the collective has been tirelessly writing and recording its own brand of eclectic, atmospheric, left-leaning artrock, the sort that makes folks like me go crazy with the hyphenated descriptives."
- Jeff Miers, Buffalo News
"Imagine a completely fresh approach to the Guided By Voices style of songwriting. The Gifted Children, perhaps the most prolific band you're going to hear of, write immaculate, unique, wonderful songs."
- Jeff Marsh, Delusions of Adequacy

"The Gifted Children have been a 'collective' for thirteen years and defy all logic by having numerous core members *and* being very good at the same time... It’s about time that someone showed these other collectives how it’s done."
- RetroLowFi

"(The Gifted Children) churn out songs faster than a meth lab run by speed freaks…there's more danger and adventure in these five lads than you'd think."
- Frank De Blase, City Newspaper

"The Gifted Children have mastered the art of quantity and quality."
- Mark Norris, BuffaloBeat

"A slice of indie heaven!"
- Michelle Picardo, Freetime Magazine
- Sources Listed Below

"Feature story: Busy kids"

Fertile pop quartet the Gifted Children
can easily be renamed the Prolific
Children. The band's expansive list of
self-produced recordings grows to 19
with Saturday's release of "Chinese
Food Take Over" in Nietzsche's.

An estimated 500 songs and another
13 side projects account for their
impressive music catalog - and the
band isn't finished yet. Last
weekend's finishing touches on
"Chinese Food Take Over" spawned
one of the group's many impromptu
writing sessions just as an "outlet."
The result should hit record stores by May - possibly with an EP or two released
in the meantime.

"I just get a little idea and write," said vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Jeff
Suszczynski, who along with Bill Trautman, pens the Gifted Children's songs.
The Grand Island native often spends his lunch breaks writing new material in a
piano room at the University of Rochester, where he's a computer programmer.

"I never have much time to write, just an hour at lunch and before bed,"
Suszczynski said. "That's why my songs are all short - I don't have time to write
four-minute epics."

For every Gifted Children song recorded, there are two that aren't and another five
songs not quite ready. The biggest surprise isn't the quantity of songs, but the
quality. The band's deeply affecting, acoustic-based numbers are thoughtful,
creative and whimsical.

"We write songs so we have something to listen to," Suszczynski said. "There
was a time we thought if you listen to your own music you're pretentious. But
then we realized it's OK to like what you write."

Attribute Suszczynski's productive songwriting to self-imposed challenges. Once
he and Trautman decided to write and record an EP in one night - just for the fun
of it. Another challenge was to write songs based on 10 "bizarre" chapter titles
from Kurt Vonnegut's "Cat's Cradle" in one night. (That test spawned the EP "The
Queasy Dream.")

Suszczynski began playing piano in fourth grade. By age 10 he was writing piano
compositions emulating Poison and Motley Crue (he claims he didn't write his
first non-cheesy song until 1994). He met Trautman in high school and the two
have been writing and playing together since.

"Bill is my right-hand man. He's awesome, he can play anything," Suszczynski
said. The two later brought college buddies into the mix to form the foundation of
Gifted Children. Today the band includes drummer Tim Grimaldi and Brett Dreyer
on tenor sax and guitar. The band produces and records all releases and shares
the business duties (Dreyer creates the CD artwork and mailers; Grimaldi
handles booking and promotions).

There's also a host of contributing musicians who may step on stage at any time,
including original band member Justin Sheehan, making Gifted Children live
shows unpredictable and fun.

"We're goofy, geeky guys," Suszczynski said.

Though many songs are folky and even a bit melancholy in the minimalist style of
the Red House Painters, the quartet's live shows are upbeat and often hilarious
(recent concerts have featured an anti-Creed segment showcasing Suszczynski's
amusing interpretation of Creed frontman Scott Stapp).

"In our live shows, we try to be idiots and divert some attention away from the fact
that some of our songs are really sad. It's all about self-amusement," he laughed.

- The Buffalo News, 16 Mar 2001

"the gifted children - mastering the buddy system"

The first time I saw The Gifted Children, a Buffalo, NY-based four-piece, I was reminded of Guided By Voices. That's not to say they sound like GBV, necessarily, although a few songs are definitely of that style, but more that the band's philosophy and musical tendencies leaned that way. The more I got to know about the band, the truer that is. Like GBV, The Gifted Children have a host of releases (more than 20 albums and EPs, most printed in limited quantities and no longer available unless you ask nicely), the
members have various side projects, and the music, while often serious, just gives you a sense the band is having fun.

Led by singer/primary songwriter Jeff Suszczynski, The Gifted Children's music is quite clearly indie rock in the vein of Pavement, GBV, and similar bands. With confident, powerful vocals, strong guitar and bass, good rhythm, and cryptic vocals, the band plays very tight indie rock. On this release, most of the songs tend toward the quieter, more personal nature, proving their versatility. They're equally comfortable
rocking out fully electric as picking up acoustic guitar, stand-up bass, saxophone, and piano.

There's almost a bit of a psychedelic sound on the guitar to the opening, "Deathtone Chambers," and then "The Weeping Room," one of the band's more rocking tracks - especially live - hits quick at just over a minute and a half. Then things slow down a bit, with "Charm School Dropout" coming in on a wash of guitars before receding to mostly just vocals over acoustic guitar, as Suszczynski sings, "I've come across the room just to speak to you." With the harmonica and rolling rhythm, "Trance Called Superstition" is a bit more folky sounding, and "To Walk with You" is just downright lovely, all slightly
echoed vocals and piano, atmospheric and quite personal. My personal favorite is "Kaleidoscope Eyes," and this is one of those that most reminds me of bands like GBV or Neutral Milk Hotel with an almost epic feel.

I doubt I'll track down all 20 albums from this band, but they have more on the way, so I don't mind. Now if only they'd tour. They easily have the talent and the potential to be huge, and indie rock fans will definitely enjoy their works. I'd still say start with their new album, Chinese Food Takeover, before this one, but these are some fine songs.
- Delusions of Adequacy (

"RetroLowFi : whitespace differences review"

15 April 2008

In case you aren’t familiar with the concept of indie rock “collectives”, please allow me to settle the score for you. A collective is a loose group of musicians usually based around one or two main contributors. The collective can have as many members as they’d like, but do not have a steady lineup . . . otherwise, they’d be a “band”. Usually, the extraneous come-and-go members are already focused on projects that they actually believe in, and the “collective” is nothing more than a way of making a solo artist or duo sound absolutely huge when they are often the least talented members of the band. Please see Broken Social Scene for reference.

The Gifted Children have been a “collective” for thirteen years and defy all logic by having numerous core members *and* being very good at the same time. The group reportedly hasn’t really considered the idea of releasing any of the 1300 songs they’ve amassed to the public until this year, which is pretty damned commendable. It’s truly been a bunch of musicians that want to record songs that they want to hear, and everyone else be damned.

And that brings us to their album, Whitespace Differences. It’s everything that I already like: it’s moody, the band is obviously enjoying themselves greatly, the running time is less than a half of an hour, and musically it reminds me of the more dutiful moments of Low’s classic The Great Destrroyer. The members love coating their ethereal melodies in distortion, reverb and hiss, but all of the melodies are great to begin with, and the abundance of effects seems to merely be a matter of aesthetics . . . not to mask mistakes or underwritten tracks.

The press release for Whitespace Differences purports that many other releases are on tap for the Gifted Children in 2008 alone. Thank the stars for that. It’s about time that someone showed these other collectives how it’s done. -

"Delusions of Adequacy - whitespace differences review"

The Gifted Children are a Western New York band that prides itself as much on its ability to rock out as to lose itself in chaotic or lush noisescapes. To say the band is schizophrenic would be a misnomer; rather, it's a band in phases. In one phase, the band could rival Guided By Voices for literate and catchy pop songs, and in another, the talented group of musicians get lost in electronics and experimental sounds.

The talent of the Children's musicians is unmistakable. When they want to rock out, they do so effortlessly. Their poppy songs are catchy and fun. And when they get creative and experimental, the result is curious and usually lush and lovely or thick and powerfully moving.

The album Whitespace Differences opens with the thick-sounding "Plot::God," a wash of noise and fuzzed drums to accompany gorgeous "ahh-ahh" vocals and layered sounds. It's a teaser to lead into the more poppy "Velvet Rope," which features the vocals of Pam Swarts along with lead singer Jeff Suszczynski, both rather shimmering with just the right amount of echo. At 2:11, it's over as fast as your favorite GBV track, and it's contrasted by the louder electric guitars and distorted vocals of the much more experimental "Ah, Pan." "Grace" is a perfect name for the quiet and sweet-sounding pop track that features my favorite guitar on the album. That and it's follow-up, the short "Infection Swath Flyover" that hits you with an unexpected moody indie rock, are my favorites on the album.

Transitioning to a new phase, "Tinhorn Planets" is a thick, electronic track, filled with curious noises and beats, Suszczynski's voice echoing over top, singing in his usual style of literate and disconnected poetry. There's soft electronic noises underlying the moodier "Strange Caroms," a slower and darker song. It flows nicely into the Beta Band-style instrumental "...And then Fold, Homeward," and the album ends with the short "The Best of the Surface Tourists," which is surprisingly light pop with soft acoustic guitar.

On Whitespace Differences, "We Saw the Vultures" is a short, quieter track. On the album's companion EP, titled We Saw the Vultures, it's pure rock-n-roll that's still under a minute. The five-minute "October" is a lush and quiet electronic number, perhaps one of the prettiest songs the band released. "Point Work" is an odd pop song, mid-tempo and more traditionally structured. The band shows its habit of giving a nod to Western New York on the last two songs, the quieter and pretty acoustic "Mt. Hope" (an old and beautiful cemetery and neighborhood in Rochester) and the light, electronic instrumental "Letchworth" (a beautiful park in the area) that is accompanied by the sounds of flocking geese.

The Gifted Children released a number of albums in various phases of rock or experimental pop before disbanding for a while, only to recently reunite for a number of shows, to form the label Tinhorn Planet, and release some of the ever-growing piles of music begging for an audience. These were the band's first two releases this year, with four other albums or EPs already released or reissued. I hope to stay busy spreading the word about this band's varied yet rich catalog. Check out the band's website for free downloads of the EP A Turncoat Spring. -

"The Fire Note - whitespace differences review"

Fire Note Says: This may be your introduction to the band but this is their 20th release to date!

Album Review:
Not too many bands can live up to the massive song number creations of Guided By Voices but Western New Yorkers, The Gifted Children come close with the recording of more than 1300 songs over their past 13 years. The band has been hiding in the shadows all these years and is now having their albums and EPs released and reissued by Tinhorn Planet Music. Whitespace Differences is their 5th full-length and their 20th release to date. It is no surprise that The Gifted Children are longtime fans of GBV because they have taken the model of mass production and tweaked it by replacing the Cheap Trick underbelly with a more atmospheric, folk and shoegaze vibe, while having retained the short tracks, harmonic moments and injecting their own wordplay magic. The band currently has five members and has been consistently driven by singer/songwriter Jeff Suszcynski but over their past 13 years, the revolving door has included at least 23 others that have appeared on an album in some capacity. All the way down to the pleasant closer “The Best Of The Surface Tourists”, The Gifted Children present their case as the new king of the two-minute song in a nice ten tracks less than thirty-minute package on Whitespace Differences. The good news is that if like this small offering get ready because the rest of the bands work will be released all year long.

Key Tracks: "Velvet Rope", "We Saw The Vultures", "The Best Of The Surface Tourists"

Bands With Similar Fire:
Guided By Voices
Swearing At Motorists
Marmoset -

"City Newspaper - Interview"

Zen and the art of the short song

PREVIEW: The Gifted Children (5/17)
By Frank De Blase on May. 7th, 2008

Straight-up rock 'n' roll ain't so rock 'n roll if you stay within the guard rails. Where's the brevity, the urgency, the now? Where's the chaos, the contrarian defiance it once brandished?

Rochester's Gifted Children is a prolific quintet that churns out songs faster than a meth lab run by Advertisementspeed freaks. To some, the band's songs are only fragments of songs waiting to be paired up with others floating in the band's collective head. But they aren't abbreviations or shortcuts; guitarist/singer/keyboardist Jeff Suszczynski, drummer Aaron Boucher, guitarist Jim Sahr, guitarist/saxophonist Brett Dreyer, and bassist Bill Trautman all play to the point.

The songs - some clocking in at under a minute - are the antithesis of the epic rock opus trap some indie bands fall into. So despite the experimental distortion and wash, dreamy vocals, and thoughtful guitar, there's more danger and adventure in these five lads than you'd think.

I sat and chatted with Suszczynski about the band's ever-growing catalogue and release schedule - three LPs and eight EPs are scheduled for release this year alone - writing whole records in one night, and being open to trying new things... even cowbell.

City: How did you arrive at writing short and sweet?

Suszczynski: Well, I've been writing songs for a long time, but I switched to the shorter songs after hearing Guided by Voices' "Bee Thousand." Up until that point I was laboring over every song, to get those 10 to 12 perfect songs all polished, then [ I would ] save up money to go into the studio and bang 'em out. I heard "Bee Thousand" when I was a sophomore in college and it was like an epiphany. All of a sudden I hear these guys recording in their basement, these kind of half-finished but brilliant songs. It was like, "I don't have to toil over these anymore."

But wasn't that just their version of complete?

At the time it sounded half done. But I've drunk their Kool-Aid.

Do you consider your songs half done?

No, no, they're done. It used to be in order for a song to be done, it had to have verse/chorus/verse/chorus/bridge/chorus/chorus. And hearing that album just freed me from those restrictions. It made so much more sense to write a song linearly. Or as soon as the lyrics were finished - I'm big on lyrical content - instead of repeating a chorus for no reason. If the lyrics are done, if it's a little snapshot of life or whatever, then it's done whether it's 45 seconds or five minutes.

So this took the creative pressure off?

Yeah, and it just freed me and the other guys in the band to just not be so concerned about polishing every little turd. "Let's release it. It may not be the best song, it might suck..."

So what do you do with the free time other bands spend writing and tweaking longer songs?

It frees you up to do more production. I can do a full album on my four-track. So we started doing that and releasing stuff to our friends.

How long is it from start to finish with a song or a batch of songs?

We were recently recording a bunch of songs we'd been working on for several years, so that's the longer period. During that weekend we got a little drunk and decided to record an EP that night. So we banged out five songs in eight minutes. So it's anywhere from literally writing it and recording it on the spot to stuff we've been sitting on for five, seven, 10 years. It runs the gamut, I guess.

How do you typically approach it?

I'm a real control freak with the recording. So I'll start with all my tracks - guitar, voice, keyboards, a bunch of stuff - first. Then we'll add the drums and bass and everything else after that. We can't all get together at the same time so we'll have recording parties where the drummer will bang out literally 25 songs. And he's never heard those songs before that day.

I would like to go into the studio with a producer and actually surrender some of the control at one point.

Are there songs you regret releasing, songs that could have stood more work that really weren't complete?

They're all kinda like your kids in a way. So even the ugly ones you love in a weird, perverted way. Some of the stuff I'm embarrassed by, the goofy, really poppy stuff we did nine, 10 years ago when it was all clever word play and super hooky.

Do these songs grow or change over time in a live setting?

Sometimes organically, and definitely on purpose at some point. I welcome more input in the live show.

How do these short songs translate live?

Sometimes they don't at all. Sometimes they just confuse the hell out of people. Sometimes people are baffled: did they mess up? Are they gonna start it over? And they wait on the applause.

Is there any end in sight? How long is this gonna last?

A long time. We've got another 20 albums to be released, and then we're always writing. The end goal is to get it all off my chest. There was a period where we hadn't released anything in four to five years and I was like, "We've got hundreds and hundreds of songs we need to get out there so we can push and do new things." The goal is to release a full-length about every four months - three a year. And then in between, pepper that with EPs.

How many songs have you written so far?

We figure it's about 1300 songs since we became a band in '95.

As an experimental band, where do you draw the line? What will you never do?

Cowbell is probably about the only thing. Pretty much anything I would try... Well, yeah, even cowbell. What the hell? - City Newspaper (Rochester, NY)


releases (most tracks can be streamed via soundcloud by starting at

one clear minute, volume 03 [september 2011]
aimless renters forever [september 2011]
the portable sun [july 2011
montgomery blue ash [april 2011]
fallacy stilts [february 2011]
christmas 2010 [december 2010]
the autumn parade [october 2010]
building your lo-fi shelter (5CD boxed set) [august 2010]
please freeze me [march 2010]
christmas 2009 [december 2009]
one clear minute volume 02 [october 2009]
one clear minute volume 01 [september 2009]
my museum pieces [september 2009]
open windows [march 2009]
the reginald pantry lp (march 2009]
the calvano ep [march 2009]
christmas 2008 ep [december 2008]
always stay sweet [october 2008]
harbinger themes volume 03 [october 2008]
harbinger themes volume 02 [october 2008]
a turncoat spring [apr 29 2008]
ballou movie soundtrack [april 2008]
cordless miles [mar 28 2008]
harbinger themes volume 01 [mar 11 2008]
we saw the vultures [mar 11 2008]
whitespace differences [feb 02 2008]
the commonwealth squelch [2005]
chinese food takeover [2001]
mastering the buddy system [2001]
colorfast anthems [2000]
leisure suit marathons [1999]
the year of living dangerously [1998]
moesha, moesha, moesha [1997]
imaginary girls [1997]
leftovers [1997]
april [1997]
flowers for trudy [1997]
the queasy dream [1996]
ziploc [1996]
cutlery [1996]
bathtub full of dreams [1996]
my little iron curtain [1996]
the ice palace [1996]
august [1995]



the gifted children is a collective of musicians from rochester and buffalo, ny.

they’ve released 5 albums and 15 EPs in the past 3 years alone, and have recorded more than 1300 songs in their 15 year career... they specialize in concise, compelling, slightly cryptic and off-kilter pop songs, laced with shoegazer atmospherics and electronic noise. lyrics are literate, vivid and slightly obtuse.

the gifted children live show is an energetic mixture of pop songwriting genius, expert knob-twiddling, great harmonies and off-the-cuff banter. approachable and self-deprecating, they become fast friends with their audiences.

recommended for fans of:
guided by voices, broken social scene, the new pornographers, american music club …

other items of note:

- the gifted children recently became the first American rock band to perform in Belarus in nearly 10 years, playing Minsk's Ambasovishcha Festival in June 2009 as guests of the U.S. State Department.
- the gifted children have nearly 20 songs featured in the indie documentary, Ballou, which recently debuted on the BET Network.

selected press quotes:

"The Gifted Children have survived long enough now to become the elder statesmen (and women) of Buffalo indie rock. From the mid-’90s onward, the collective has been tirelessly writing and recording its own brand of eclectic, atmospheric, left-leaning art-rock, the sort that makes folks like me go crazy with the hyphenated descriptives."
- Jeff Miers, Buffalo News

"…to say that the band is prolific would be an understatement. They could be considered proud members of Guided by Voices leader Robert Pollard’s 'write-10-songs-before-breakfast' club, but they are hardly another example of quantity over quality: You would be hard-pressed to find a single song in their catalog to be considered a 'throwaway'."
- Eric Kendall, Artvoice Magazine

"Imagine a completely fresh approach to the Guided By Voices style of songwriting. The Gifted Children, perhaps the most prolific band you're going to hear of, write immaculate, unique, wonderful songs."
- Jeff Marsh, Delusions of Adequacy