By Connor Batsimm
Cigarette Cousin made their first footprint on the Skidmore indie rock scene during last semester’s Battle of the Bands, when halfway through their set, frontman Chris Moulty stopped everything to deliver a five-minute rant about the lack of new ideas in Skidmore’s music scene. Wild-eyed, he called out several Skidmore bands by name and announced that Cigarette Cousin was about to blow everybody’s minds with their ambitious new sound. He was promptly cut off by the sound guy announcing that they were out of time.
Following the performance, Cigarette Cousin were met with criticism from much of the Skidmore community. Many found their sound dull and forgettable. And some even pointed out that Moulty’s rant was basically the same tirade that singer Brendan Pickering of Blazed and Confused went on at Beatlemore two years ago…
Six months later, Cigarette Cousin returns with their debut EP, Tide Pod Heart, and it’s obvious that redemption is on their minds. On “No One But Me,” Moulty breaks into a ferocious growl, as he sneers about a lover who fails to connect with him, all while drawing several not-subtle parallels to the listeners who don’t understand his music. On the opening track, “Walking Cliché,” the band transcribes Moulty’s battle of the bands rant into a fuzzy alt-blues number decrying the dying campus music scene. It’s worth noting that Cigarette Cousin isn’t afraid to incorporate humor into their music, or at least to try to, as the title song includes a series of moderately funny, stream-of-consciousness anecdotes about doing laundry. These, of course, are clearly meant to be read as a paradigm for how Moulty is still growing up and trying to understand his life’s purpose.
Not clear, however, is what Moulty believes distinguishes Cigarette Cousin from the rest of the Skidmore’s bands. For all of his rants about the lack of originality amongst other indie rock bands, Tide Pod Heart sounds strikingly similar to the other jaded, loud but-not-too-energetic feel of other groups in the genre. The biggest factor differentiating Cigarette Cousin is trumpet player Miles Marcucci, who was added to the group after their Battle of the Bands mishap. Several songs on Tide Pod Heart feature prominent trumpet licks, particularly album closer, “Horns in my Head,” a slow, grungy crooner praising horn sections as the future of indie rock. “You’re not like the rest of ’em,” sings Moulty. “You’ve got horns in your head.”
Following the release of Tide Pod Heart, Marcucci announced that he was quitting the band to focus on some solo projects. Probably not coincidentally, Cigarette Cousin also announced that they would be on a temporary hiatus, until they can find a new niche sound to capitalize on.
Grade: 3/5 stars