Talk about a quick turnaround- a little over two months ago Old Time Machine did a split EP with fellow Yukon act Old Cabin, and now Old Time Machine has got a full-length record. What I did expect, and received, was innovative, powerful music. What I did not expect and also received (and subsequently enjoyed) was a lot of banjo. But I’ll get to that.
Those who did hear the aforementioned split EP will recognize the opening and closing tracks; “Sun Burns Out” and “Tearing Me Down” respectively. Both songs have become almost engrained in my memory.
The new songs are all strong as well. The duo that makes up Old Time Machine, Ryan McNally and Kyle Cashen, have an undeniable chemistry. Rarely does a combination of a kick drum and banjo produce such power. While the banjo might conjure the image of an overalls-wearing Southerner sitting on a front porch, I never once thought to categorize any of Old Time Machine’s songs as country-sounding. The banjo plays an important role in several songs.
My favourite banjo tune on the record is “Through the Window” if only because it’s so self-referential. There’s a steady banjo riff that plays throughout the song, and at one point McNally sings “If you wanna find me I’ll be out playing banjo in the rain.” It’s quite an image, too. “Doin’ All I Can Do” struck me as whimsical, and “Mountain Shack” is a song that experiments with instrumentation, particularly toward the end that features a lot of whirring.
“Feel So Cold” is a striking song, featuring a ukulele instead of a banjo. It’s a simple song about love, but again, with the dynamic this band has, it takes on a new dimension. There’s also a pretty universal lyric at one spot: “I used to love somebody just like a precious jewel/No I’m no man in love, ain’t nothin’ but a fool.”
“Where the Hell We Are” and “May As Well Be Night” both return to the guitar as the main instrument, the latter of which features echoing drums that make the song feel a little trippy.
There really isn’t a band out there like Old Time Machine. Plain and simple.
Get the album via Bandcamp. To get a taste of the album you can stream “Pouring Rain” below.
Top Tracks: “Pouring Rain”; “Feel So Cold”
Rating: Proud Hoot (Really Good) +*swoop*