The Gifted Children – Mastering the Buddy System EP

The Gifted Children
Mastering the Buddy System EP

The first time I saw The Gifted Children, a Buffalo, NY-based four-piece, I was reminded of Guided By Voices. That’s not to say they sound like GBV, necessarily, although a few songs are definitely of that style, but more that the band’s philosophy and musical tendencies leaned that way. The more I got to know about the band, the truer that is. Like GBV, The Gifted Children have a host of releases (more than 20 albums and EPs, most printed in limited quantities and no longer available unless you ask nicely), the members have various side projects, and the music, well often serious, just gives you a sense the band is having fun.
Lead by singer/primary songwriter Jeff Suszczynski, The Gifted Children’s music is quite clearly indie rock in the vein of Pavement, GBV, and similar bands. With confident, powerful vocals, strong guitar and bass, good rhythm, and cryptic vocals, the band plays very tight indie rock. On this release, most of the songs tend toward the quieter, more personal nature, proving their versatility. They’re equally comfortable rocking out fully electric as picking up acoustic guitar, stand-up bass, saxophone, and piano.
There’s almost a bit of a psychadelic sound on the guitar to the opening, “Deathtone Chambers,” and then “The Weeping Room,” one of the band’s more rocking tracks – especially live – hits quick at just over a minute and a half. Then things slow down a bit, with “Charm School Dropout” coming in on a wash of guitars before receding to mostly just vocals over acoustic guitar, as Suszczynski sings, “I’ve come across the room just to speak to you.” With the harmonica and rolling rhythm, “Trance Called Superstition” is a bit more folky sounding, and “To Walk with You” is just downright lovely, all slightly echoed vocals and piano, atmospheric and quite personal. My personal favorite is “Kaleidoscope Eyes,” and this is one of those that most reminds me of bands like GBV or Neutral Milk Hotel with an almost epic feel.
I doubt I’ll track down all 20 albums from this band, but they have more on the way, so I don’t mind. Now if only they’d tour. They easily have the talent and the potential to be huge, and indie rock fans will definitely enjoy their works. I’d still say start with their new album, Chinese Food Takeover, before this one, but these are some fine songs.