Exclusive: Total Downer's Fuzzy Buzzy Lo-Fi Debut
Last month, we introduced you to Total Downer, the lo-fi project of Cleveland-based musician Andy Schumann. His punchy single "Frick U" was just a tease, though, preparing for his debut EP. Today, we're stoked to exclusively premiere Live! From My Computer, the 3-track debut effort from Total Downer. Here's what Andy has to say about it:
The EP clocks in under 10 minutes, this fleeting home production wrapped up in a messy bow that is gone as quickly as it arrived. But it's okay, because it's just a taste of what's sure to come from Andy's wild musical mind. We don't need any fancy production or a full-length album six years in the making. This is fine -- three fuzzy garage-rock tracks made with love by a couple Cleveland friends jamming hard because they want to. We're so with it.
Live! From My Computer opens with "Looks Like Me," an angry reflection on being your own person despite boasting similarities to somebody you'd rather forget. Deep bass booms lead the track accompanied by steady percussion as Andy's quivering voice sings "I am a soft clay / Molded into the person that you want me to be," line after line of tongue-in-cheek poignancy. There's big emotion here buried in the songwriting (clearly cathartic, you can practically hear the rapid-fire scribble of pen on torn paper), but it's an upbeat dance banger with electric rhythms.
"Frick U" comes next and we already know it's a killer. Packed with crackles of fuzzy distortion and led by quick-paced pop-punk melodies, it's the song you shout along to at a Total Downer gig in a dark crowded basement with all your too-cool friends. The lyrics are earnest ("I just wanna have a life and die and say I'm happy at the end") and the instrumental comedown is such an A+ moment, but the whole track is cloudy. You've got the searing grunge rhythms, little instances of pop tones, and punk layers, all coated in this drunken haze of that lo-fi treatment.
Ending the EP is "Fingernails," easily the most skilled track off the record from the vocals (wrangled this time) to the production (still not fancy, thank god, but just really well-done) all the way to the instrumentation (incessant power). It's your quintessential garage-rock anthem. Andy's delivery moves seamlessly from woozy words falling out of his mouth to high-energy howls, like when he sings "I'm supposed to be happy but I'm not," a ridiculously matter-of-fact statement, so simple in its truth. The percussion work is sharp, unrelenting in its endurance, as is the bass line. It's not the shortest song on the EP but it almost feels like it because there's so much expertise here that you just want more of it.
On Live! From My Computer, Andy and a whole slew of talented friends craft a speedy sonic adventure heavy with the fuzz and fog of lo-fi production. Untamed instrumentation, distinct vocals, and sobering lyrics make up Total Downer's quick collection.
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Featured photo of Total Downer by Lisha Payne