Ian Gustafson, Matthew Mara and Zoë Wyner comprise the Boston-based indie-rock crew known as Halfsour. Their music captures much of the energy characterizing the pop and rock genres, yet doesn’t quite fall into any single category. This style of loosely straddling the line between pop and rock may explain the gritty and rowdy yet enthusiastic and fun flavor they’ve cultivated. This Halfsour flavor (the only sour pun in the article, I promise) is more present than ever in their new six-track EP, Charm School.
In the EP’s first track, “Ten Year Tenure”, bassist Zoë Wyner sings of her discontent with the Boston music scene’s penchant for driving good musicians away. Through her words “someone I once knew, that I thought was true,” she speaks to the scene’s ability to coerce an otherwise genuine person to betray their past promises. Throughout the recurring verse’s second line, “Said they’d stay, said they’d never move away,” guitarist Matthew Mara’s riffs carry listeners through the song enthusiastically, making the tune a quick listen. The song becomes all the more captivating, unique and memorable when paired with its video. The band gave full creative license to their friend Ariana Ratner who hasn’t wasted a moment of the 3:34 minute video.
“Vinyl Siding” features guitarist Matthew Mara’s punk-esque vocals and a more mellow cadence than “Ten Year Tenure”. The song is bisected by a loud echoing coo from Mara, distinguishing what I’d imagine is one of the EP’s best tracks to hear live. Check out some of the song’s recording footage here.
Zoë’s next song, “Scenes from the Couch“, is like a briefer segue from “Ten Year Tenure”. According to Wyner, “Ten Year Tenure is more about people moving away and understanding why, but still being sad. Scenes is about friends who are flakes, but also having flaky tendencies yourself.”
An exciting aspect of Halfsour is that each member of the trio gets their fair share of time behind the mic. Drummer Ian Gustafson handled vocals on “Ice Cream Dinner“, a calmer break from the rest of the EP, which comes off as pleasantly controlled rambunctiousness. Gustafson’s singing is reminiscent of Christian Holden of Worcester’s The Hotelier, another of my Massachusetts favorites.
With the small exception of “Ice Cream Dinner”, each song has such rapid instrumentation that the EP manages to sound even shorter than it’s 15 minute playtime would suggest. Fortunately, Charm School is as sweet as it is short. In spite of the band’s lamentation of how stressful and transient Boston has become for musicians, Halfsour is positive proof that this inhospitable environment still gives rise to some really cool and motivated artists. Whatever the subject matter of the next record we’re excited to see what the band’s next efforts produce. Expect a full length from Halfsour during early 2017 and catch them at Great Scott in Allston, MA on 2/4. Pictured on left: Mara, Gustafson and Wyner.
Halfsour Socials – Facebook | Instagram | Bandcamp | Video for Ik from album Tuesday Night Live released 01/23/16