>> The best band you’ve never heard of brings a crop of songs that feel like the culmination of a many year's long journey, delivering something that can resonate with anyone.
It doesn’t feel possible to talk about Comfy’s latest release without talking about its history. Comfy is an indie rock collective surrounded around the creative endeavors of Utica, New York native, Connor Benincasa, who started the band with a group of friends during high school in 2012, pulling inspiration from a myriad of subgenres, from indie to garage rock, emo to psychedelia, pop punk to pop rock. Since then, Comfy has written and recorded an impressive discography for a group of their nature, with a revolving door of over twenty members, and even more collaborators, since its inception. Comfy was the big band of Utica’s underground, sparking a scene of young musicians, artists, and fans throughout its half-decade run. With all this in mind, it makes the March 2018 release of ‘Thanks For The Ride’ feel all more relevant, and even more triumphant. Benincasa recorded it during the move from his hometown to Philadelphia, PA, and it shows in the best way. This entire album feels like it came straight from the heart. Every word and performance on it feels incredibly intentional and filled with authenticity and purpose- you can feel the emotion dripping on every word. One of the most captivating tracks here is the shortest, “I Know You’re Gonna Make It, Nicholas,” a song that sums up the feelings of parting with a talented old friend beautifully: “Nicholas, I know you're gonna make it, friend/ Of the darkest times I've spent, the ones with you were best/ If I had my way, we'd be a mile apart or less/ But life is strange and very long, and best lived with no regrets.” In just a few short lines, the whole story is told. The lyrics across this project are so vivid, endearing, despondent, anxiety-filled, redeeming, and uplifting that it feels as if you’re reading someone’s diary. At just nine tracks, it feels as if each song is a chapter in the story of Benincasa’s journey thus far. If the thesis of this album is “transitioning in life is terrifying,” the conclusion is “I’m glad I did it anyway.” Anyone who has had to leave a place and people they love can identify with this on some level. On top of that, Benincasa really knows how to put together a song. Every section is full of brilliant musicianship, with thick, driving choruses, soaring and catchy guitar leads, and layered instrumental sections. The musical direction of this project adds to an atmosphere of calculation, the mind behind this did a lot of work to get it just right.
If there’s to be any complaint with ‘Thanks For The Ride,’ it is probably in its mixing, which is actually very good for a project that was entirely played and mixed by one person. There a few times where there feels to be a slight unbalance in the mix, leaning to the overly polished side, but for the most part, it maintains a balance of aesthetics pretty well. Additionally, sometimes a vocal delivery could’ve used one more take to achieve a similar balance between emotion and clarity. Although, honestly, these feel like nitpicks. They serve as additions to the aesthetic, and to change this might take something important away.
The title of ‘Thanks For The Ride’ fully matches its content. Even as a first-time listener of the band, you cannot escape the feeling that this is the culmination of years of blood, sweat, tears, and learning. There is so much intent and story behind each song, it becomes engrossing. And the jams are just so good, the melodies just so catchy. You can really thrash to this thing, and then, later on, you’ll be brought to tears. It feels as if the golden formative years for Comfy have passed with time, and Connor is saying goodbye to the scene he helped create, with this record being the closing note, something to say thank you before the next age begins. What makes local bands so great, is that they have the capacity to start great things within small groups of people that can grow into something meaningful for many. Comfy sounds like every band you’ve ever heard in some basement, garage, or house party, but they also sound like no other band you’ve ever heard at some basement, garage or house party. They feel like what Bandcamp was made for, a platform to connect artists who would be limited to the local scene that they themselves helped create, and to give them a wider audience. Give them a listen, and be a part of it. They certainly deserve it. 4.8/5 <<