Back in 2008, I was on the prowl for any live show I could get to. Still being under 21 and without a license, there wasn’t much for this Rochester teenager to do. However, whenever I did find a show I could get into, it was usually a local band in a small legit or illegitimate venue. Although, being absolutely starved of live music, every single morsel I encountered was savored for all it was worth. In this way, I gained a deep appreciation for local and independent music. Just because a band wasn’t a giant headliner playing in a huge sold out stadium didn’t mean that they weren’t talented or entertaining. This revelation really struck home and changed the way I viewed music forever.
So by 2008, I heard some rumblings about Boulderfest. I had heard something about a small festival occurring in the Southwedge district back in ’07, but I wasn’t in town at the time. Over the course of a couple of months the low murmurings about a bigger and more diverse festival that was to occur in the summer became louder and more excited and then posters appeared everywhere I hung out at. When the date finally came and I arrived at the festival that July, my mind was blown by the large array of the many different local groups from all around Rochester (including the few international headliners that appeared like Vetiver, Dr. Dog, Akron/Family and Megafaun). The first two days of the festival just shook me up and down, from the mind-splitting Meddlesome Meddlesome Meddlesome Bells, the vintage folk grooves of The Varnish Cooks to the Beatles-esque pop of Walri, it was a hell of a great time. By Sunday morning however, I was completely beat. The friends I had gone with over the last two days were dead tired too and were no longer willing to go to the third day of the festival. Plus it had been raining and I wasn’t even sure if the show was set to continue. I pressed on nonetheless and when I arrived, shortly after the rain had ceased, the place looked slightly deserted in comparison to the night before (when seemingly hundreds of people were leaping in the air and shouting along to Akron/Family’s finale, which was a cover of “Turn on Your Lovelight,” in full Pigpen fierceness). I didn’t even hear any music when I wandered through the entrance. Kind of downtrodden, I drifted about the merch tents, many of which I had gone through thoroughly earlier that weekend. When I came to the tent that was selling music from the appearing artists, I saw a seven incher that had a familiar sight silkscreened on it. It was Pinnacle Hill, the highest point in all of Rochester as well as a foreboding yet legendary place of urban myths and dark rumors that nearly all teenagers in the area seemed to know something about. It was an E.P. by a group called The Gifted Children. I asked the woman at the tent if they were playing soon and she informed me that I just missed them. The record seemed to be calling to me and purely based upon the cover image (and the fact that it was a clear lathe cut vinyl, which stood out to me as I had never owned one before) I decided it was worth it to spend the final bit of money in my pocket. I managed to catch a few performances that day but my exhaustion proved too much to handle, so I got a ride back home.
Once I got home, the rain had returned (for my small town, anyway) so I clambered up to my room and put this new record on my turntable. A quick electronic beat, acoustic guitar and twinkling piano emerged from the lo-fi mist. A mellow male vocal that reminded me of what I used to hear on AM dial dwelling college stations late at night crept in and transfixed me with poetic words I could relate to:
“you killed yourself off like a soap star
I wheezed and I coughed up the blood of your name
I keep seeing you in strangers’ faces
I keep seeing you in crowds
you’re the secret mayor of every small town…”
The grey sheets of rain outside and the muted white light that cast into my dark room from my window matched the melancholic feeling that the song gave me. This feeling continued into the next song, “Brooklyn: Remedy The Guestlist.”
“half asleep in brooklyn somewhere
send an away team, please
and burn the photos that bring tears
chased you through airport windows
you left without a wave…”
This feeling went on into the first track on side b, “Favorite Constellations.” I laid on my back on my bed, staring at the ceiling while dreamy electronic pulses and reverberating guitar washed over me. An equally dreamlike voice nearly whispered out:
“did you see orion last night
did you count the stars in the sky with him
did he show you orion last night
did you stay up late, pointing out your favorite constellations?”
These words and sounds touched and tugged at my heart, reminding me of the same heartbroken wonderment that I had felt fairly recently. Yet at the same time, I felt the overall emotion was something I could relate to in a thousand of other different ways for a thousand other different reasons.
The final track, a similarly dreamy and hushed electronic piece, “When Magic is a Gas,” soothes like aloe on a fresh burn.While still melancholic, I felt that this song was like coming to terms to the same emotional turbulence that inspired the songs that preceded it on this piece of plastic.
“the magic days are gone…”
After the tone arm automatically picked itself up and returned to its off position and the turntable slowed to a stop, the entire room was completely silent except for the pitter patter of the rain falling against the window.
Some records just hit you when you first play them. They make you sit right the fuck down and pay attention to every note and it flows through you from start to finish. You know right away that you adore it and that it’s going to be a new favorite. This was certainly one of those records. I played it frequently but at the same time, I never wanted to grow tired of it, so I tried to keep a good distance between each play. Several months later, during my first year at college, I was asked to write a music review for the school paper, something that I had always wanted to do but never tried before, and I was given total freedom to choose what to write about. So I chose Cordless Miles and it became my first of many published music reviews.
In the last 8 years, I have gone through all of college, moved to a different state and started my life and career but my turntable accompanied me through all of these milestones and changes, as did Cordless Miles. Through major heartache, deaths to even casual dark rainy Sundays, this record put me at ease, reassured me and acted like the sweetest candy to my ears. Even though the multiple plays has muffled the sound a bit, I still get the same exact feelings from it now as I did on that exhausted and dreary afternoon in Rochester. In my entire record collection, this is one of 3 releases that I would attempt to save during a fire. I have mp3s of a few songs from the E.P. which is nice, but the sound is too clean. A part of the charm is the hazy hiss (that, like I had said, has been getting thicker and thicker over the years.) It’s hard to love a record so much that you know you’re destroying a little bit with every listen. The fact that only 25 of these were ever pressed, it’s likely that I will never find another copy ever again. Perhaps this fact has been making the melancholic mood of the music feel extra poignant to me lately.
5 thoughts on “The Gifted Children- Cordless Miles E.P.”
What a sweet review. Secret mayors is one of my favorite songs. Reach out to Jeff if you can.
Thanks so much! I certainly will!
As a member of this band for many years it is so great to hear that something we did had meaning for somebody. These are some of my favorite songs, it a shame we never finished the full band versions, but these do have a special charm. If you need it I still have an un-played vinyl somewhere in a closet. shoot me an email with your address and I’ll sent it to you.
Hi there, thank you so much for taking the time to read this and for your offer. I’d love to receive that copy, I’ll drop you my address shortly. Thank you again for the good words and for making such amazing music
oh I can’t seem to find your email, mine is firstname.lastname@example.org. Can you send me your address through there and I can email you my physical address? Thanks so much!