Bootblacks – Thin Skies


What’s in a name? Sometimes you can determine what kind of band you’re about to listen to just by their name alone. You know you aren’t going to get easy listening when you pop in an artist named Wormrot, you can be sure it’s not harsh noise when you click on an album by a group called Les Thugs, and rest assured after hitting play on a Trapt track you’re going to regret your life choices. My assignment was to cover Thin Skies, the fourth album from Brooklyn natives Bootblacks and upon hearing that band name, concepts of snotty, pretentious, “art” post-punk garage rock à la Murder City Devils and The Black Halos swam in my head. Luckily, the only part of my assumption that was correct would be the post-punk label.

Opener “Traveling Light” sets the mood with reverb laden guitar, echoey vocals, and dancy electronic rhythms which sees Bootblacks fit more with the new wave and goth influences of post-punk than the previously aforementioned art rockers. In fact, to me the album emulates the aural equivalent of the fashion and cinematography of The Crow with a beat you could groove to. And most intriguing is the unnerving feeling of desolation in the songs, as though being played in a lonely venue to a crowd of ghosts; truly encapsulating the 2020 experience. Take title track “Thin Skies” which features a very haunting, minimalist vibe on the guitar and synthwork that seem to have been captured as the sounds bounced off the walls of an empty hall. All the while, vocalist Panther Almvqist sings a haunting refrain of “I live on the other side…I live on the other side from you (so far away).” The track is immediately followed up by the upbeat, danceable track “Hidden Things,” which to this writer sounds like it was forged by the depressive younger brother of Bloc Party and Interpol, showing that it can’t rain all the time (see what I did there?).

The album closes out perfectly at just over the half hour mark with “Inextinguishable,” which sounds like a perfect ode to the mood and progression of The Cure without blatantly jocking their style and incorporating some of Bootblacks’ own unique flavor. This wraps up the record very well; long enough for you to whet your whistle yet short enough to keep you interested throughout. Fans of this genre will likely love the record and wonder why I only gave it a 7 out of 10 after saying such positive things. For me, it’s missing that special something to draw me in more and throughout my listens, I found my mind wandering to memories of how good She Wants Revenge and Radio Berlin were, and it took a lot of restraint to not switch the dial to those artists. Maybe they need to find their hook to keep listeners interested, maybe I need to stop mentally referring to artists I’m already a fan of, maybe it’s Maybelline. I dunno, man. All I know is this is worth the listen and a half hour well spent.

Written by Ted Berger
*Edited by Chris Aitkens

About Ted Berger 19 Articles
Saskatchewan-born and Prairie-raised, Ted is a Calgary based weirdo who, in spite of being tall, bald, bearded, and bespectacled with primary interests in metal and comics, along with other nerd shit, is not actually Brian Posehn...probably. Music has surrounded him since a young age; growing up at all ages venues seeing local punk bands, to helping out at independent music stores, travelling vast distances for shows, and eventually fronting a couple bands prior to his move to Alberta. His tastes are even more diverse and weird as those two acts (Screamo act Chapel Hill and experimental Death-Grind act Cupcake) with his playlist regularly changing from stoner to grind to midwestern emo to hip hop to skate punk to noise to Taylor Swift (yes, she’s a genre on her own - don’t @ me).

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