The Labors of Sisyphus
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The Labors of Sisyphus

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"Review of "A Recurring Theme of Failure""

"How many times is it that when something goes wrong many of us would look to the sky and ask that question "why me?" Travis Gerke has taken his despair and articulated this into an album; "A Recurring Theme Of Failure".

An artist hailing from Rome, New Georgia first learnt 'the ropes' in punk-pop band "Sloppy Meateaters" and has since added a 'nation spanning tour', performances on the USA network and the 'warped tour' to his musical resume. But with a biography that describes this composition as possessing 'vain hope for wishes come true', 'storybook relationships', 'sunny day's and happy endings', just how true to his word is Travis Gerke?

T: With romantic music that sometimes bears a passing resemblance to recent Idlewild output, Gerke manages to tug gently at your heart strings whilst conscienciously embracing the listener into his despair. I get an overwhelming feeling of "We're all in this together, but hey, everything's going to be alright" from this album. At times it reminds me of the more acoustic tracks recorded by The Wonder Stuff, such as "Sing The Absurd" or "Mission Drive" and it flows effortlessly, never gets boring and I would say it's probably the best album we have ever been sent by an unsigned artist. Would you agree?

N: I'm impressed with Travis's vocal approach, the songwriting, production - are we SURE this guy's not yet signed? But certainly the whole presentation does contain the quality of a group like Miles Hunt and co, surely a standard that is ultimately saleable in this climate. But to return to the songwriting - quite stunning. 10/10."
- Atomic Duster


"Review of "A Recurring Theme of Failure""

"Think of Dashboard Confessional without the over the top, almost whining vocals. Think of Red House Painters turned up a notch, experimenting with the addition of distortion and electronic enhancements. Think of a more accessible and less remote Jeremy Enigk. Think if One Line Drawing with more impassioned vocals. Mix the four together and you have Labors of Sisyphus.

Travis Gerke is both the beauty and the brains behind Labors of Sisyphus and the left of center, but incredibly listenable and enjoyable A Recurring Theme of Failure.

There have been numerous emotive releases over the past several years. Not many have brought much unique value to listeners. This one does. Maybe it's the underlying hope beneath the heartache and despair...the idea that repeated failures don't negate the possibility of triumph down the road. Maybe it's the thoughtful, introspective and heartfelt lyrics that thankfully never resort to preaching, are never so self-involved that he's forgotten they are intended for an audience. Or perhaps it's the great acoustic guitar artfully mixed with more electronically sonic elements.

It's definitely the engaging, evocative and enthusiastic vocals. Travis manages to make the listener feel like the song is being sung personally to you. It's intimate and personal without being intrusive. The raw emotion is not disturbing, but rather embracing.

Any small foibles are instantly forgiven once the emotional appeal of the music and vocals take hold. I was taken almost immediately. Travis, please keep us on your press list. We want to hear anything and everything you release. 4.5 of 5 stars." - South of Mainstream


"Review of "Two Points, a Cast, and the Whore""

Travis Gerke has again overwhelmed with the depth of his emotion, so richly conveyed through his starkly arranged but lushly emotional and dynamic songwriting. This time around he's wrapped me around his finger with a seven song EP.

His second outing as The Labors of Sisyphus is just as compelling and evocative as his first. But Travis has matured as a songwriter and even more so as a vocalist. His vocals, as always, are incredibly emotive, but his delivery has become more assured and stunning without becoming overly glossy and over produced. On his last outing I was able to overlook flat notes and missed cues because the emotion was so powerful. The emotional power is still there, but the flats and missed cues have virtually disappeared.

His musical arrangement is also stronger. Travis is working with more tempo and timbre changes as his songs build and swell. It only adds to the purity of emotion and the honesty of the lyrics.

There's still plenty of the crackly home recording sound for those looking for it, especially on the intro, "Summation". But overall there's a pattern of growth, maturity and enhancement of craft. This is probably best noted on the sixth track, "To Give A Season", which is full of rich texture and dynamic layered sound, with somber and sad, but ultimately honest lyrics about love, real and "for now"

...this EP absolutely blew me away. 4.5 out of 5 stars - South of Mainstream


"Review of "A Recurring Theme of Failure""

"This is another one man act, but the dynamics that are put into this release are one that most full bands wish that they could accomplish. There are so many sounds and instruments going on in this release that it's hard to explain, but the main two are the guitar and voice of one Travis Gerke, formerly of the Sloppy Meateaters. Hailing from what is quickly becoming one of the meccas of rock music, Gainsville, Florida, Travis gives us a collection of very personal and painful songs. All of the songs somehow fall into the loss/failure category, hence the title. The best song on the release is "Half Empty" which has a very upbeat sound to it, yet the entire song is about failure or how even though he hasn't failed yet, he will somehow find a way to manage to do so. I was very pleased by this cd to say the least, it has very good continuity and on the strength of well written songs a very high replay factor. Travis isn't doing anything new, but he is taking something that was done before and putting his own twist on it." - Poptart Zine


Discography

"A Recurring Theme of Failure." 13 tracks. Release date: August 13, 2002.

"Two Points, a Cast, and the Whore." 7 tracks. Release date: April 13, 2004.

Both albums available in their entirety at www.iacmusic.com/thelaborsofsisyphus

Photos

Feeling a bit camera shy

Bio

"I am the greatest songwriter that anyone will ever hear." I look across the ever-growing horizon of empty beer-bottles on our little table. None of these bottles, save two, are my fault. I look over, and into the face of Travis Gerke, to see if this is the prelude to some sort of joke. But in a distracted sort of monotone, he continues; "I am sorry if you write songs. Or if you know someone who writes songs. And I apologize to this guy," (here he nods towards the stage, where an act all here have subconsciously written off as mediocre at best, drones on). "and yet I'm not even sure what I'm sorry for. Should I really be sorry that no one is better than me?" Here, I do catch the slightest of grins. As he stands to take the stage he tells me, "You're a writer. Write me a bio and i'll buy you a beer."

Travis Gerke is the man behind "The Labors of Sisyphus." In 2001, he was fresh off of a national tour with the Sloppy Meateaters - with whom he had earned spots on the USA network and Warped Tour, and shared the stage with the likes of NOFX, Saves the Day, MxPx; even Eminem and Destiny's Child - when he decided to leave the pop-punk world behind. In August of 2002, the Labors of Sisyphus released its debut full-length, "A Recurring Theme of Failure," to a whirlwind of support from the independent market. His sound has been described as "Dashboard Confessional without the over the top vocals...Red House Painters turned up a notch...a more accessible Jeremy Enigk...Onelinedrawing with more impassioned vocals." Travis further honed his lyrical mastery and signature baritone in 2004 with the release of his brutally honest EP, "Two Points, a Cast, and the Whore." Never one to rest, tracks have already begun to emerge from his upcoming full-length, "The Greatest Salesman," which will undoubtedly raise the bar for the craft of storytelling in song.

Presently, Travis finishes his set, and I believe I may have been holding my breath. I now notice the silence that has lingered over the crowd, as they too draw breaths and again begin to speak. I cannot say that I will hold Travis' audacious claim against him. If he will not be the greatest, who will? I do know this: he owes me a beer.

-Collin Aspen