Whilst not in the least way recommended as something to kick-start a party, Paisley based Small Town Boredom create the kind of music you immerse yourself in completely and experience on your own, preferably with a glass of whisky in your hand, possibly nursing a broken heart. Interruptions are not welcome. Sign on the door: Do Not Disturb.
Originally formed in 2001 by Fraser McGowan and Colin Morrison, their 2007 vinyl only release ‘Autumn Might Have Hope’ was an album so delicate in sound you find yourself taking extra care when placing it on the turntable, for fear it may fracture and all will be lost. Whilst barely rising above a whisper at any point, the impact is all the more profound for it. The overall feel is involving and introspective. As the band themselves put it, “Honest, if a touch depressing”.
What followed ‘Autumn Might Have Hope’ was a tour with the likes of Adrian Crawley and Eagleowl. The tour ended in burnout and proved to be the culmination of the sort of unfortunate personal demons that make such artists all the more compelling.
Thankfully, after a period of rest and reflection, STB have produced a new album. As with previous work, ‘Notes from the Infirmary’ has been lovingly made in a Paisley attic, “using computers, 8 tracks and Dictaphones”, with help from Richard Kengen on bass and Gordon Bartholomew on electric guitar.
Both permanent band members work full time as engineers and record in their spare time. “Personally I find making music very therapeutic, I can lose myself for hours each night in recording and mixing, that’s the stuff I enjoy”, says Fraser.
The inevitable fallout from the last tour is an unwillingness to delve too deeply into the music business. As Fraser is keen to point out, “Playing live and promoting what we do I hate, so we don’t do it that much. I think we will keep making music as long as we enjoy the process, if that ever goes I don’t think I would do it anymore”.
Perhaps strangely, for a West coast band, they are much more excited about the music scene in Edinburgh than Glasgow. “There is a lot of great stuff going on in Edinburgh just now. Bands such as Eagleowl, The Kays Lavelle, Withered Hand and The Leg for example, their music has affected me massively”, says Fraser. “I’m really not a big fan of the music scene in Glasgow; I think it’s completely overrated and most of the bands getting hype or press just now bore me”.
The new album continues where ‘Autumn Might Have Hope’ left off, with ‘Void Lighting’ a standout carefully crafted song of love and loss which immediately draws you in to their world with an understated intensity rarely heard since the Nine Inch Nails released ‘Hurt’. ‘World’s Most Unwanted’ dares to raise the tempo, building the vocals to a stunning finale.
Small Town Boredom have created something majestic with ‘Notes from the Infirmary’; a hushed masterpiece. They may not be too keen on promoting themselves, but Scotland has a band to shout about and their music deserves an audience. If this is the result of boredom, then it is time very well spent indeed.