Tugboat’s Final Voyage!

On March 24th Tugboat played their final show at the Rogue, putting a close on six years of amazing music and great live shows.  The show that night was amazing and Tugboat has never been better and, not to be undone completely in their final move, they released their last record, the eponymously titled mini-album Tugboat. The release of this eight track EP is the epitome of a band ending their time together on a high note, as it is the best thing they’ve ever released.

In honesty, their previous recordings wowed me, in the way that it would wow me if Ben Folds decided to incorporate actual madness and math rock weirdness to his songs while still maintaining some kind  of accessibility. So I took that, walking in with an open mind to expect more of that (happily) and I was knocked off my fucking rocker by what I got. There’s no other way of saying it, the eight tracks on Tugboat seems to be the pinnacle, the absolute aspiration of all they were approaching for over half a decade. The immediate indication of this is the opener “Out West” which in one song, blows away, nearly everything tread before—part math rock, part Nirvana, part genius. “East 33” approaches their dusk from another angle, in a slow, hurtful Elvis Costello way with no less brilliance. Tugboat always seems wonderfully torn between amazing pop like Squeeze and punk like Buzzcocks at once, “Doodle”  may well be a perfect example of that dichotomy—it’s something that creates an amazingly attractive dissonance in your head.

“Capitol” goes to show similar veins but with an obvious focus on math rock attenuations  and it’s hard rocking as hell, while likewise enjoyable. If Tugboat had continued past this point (and they should have) I’m pretty sure “Angry Angry Hatred” would have been a CMJ worthy hit, because for them it takes the middle path and goes down really smooth, especially when they reiterate that “It’s my fucking birthday.” What follows, ”“.” Instrumental” is exactly that—just some fun in the studio with an instrumental that like most instrumentals on an album seems useless, but in the end the joy they had in playing and recording it becomes apparent, which is absolutely wonderful to hear.  “Oh Snap (Cory Spotts version)” and “Ballad (Cory Spotts version)” both sound like earlier Tugboat, which is kind of nice in a “we’re ending where we arrived” kind of sound. Still the advancement in their sound can only make you think one thing. It’s the elephant in the room. Why can’t Tugboat stick together, because this is simply great.  Friends had told me how great Tugboat was, but I didn’t get it until it was far too  late, but I’m just thankful I was there for the ending.

You Can Listen To and Download The Final Tugboat EP Here For Free, You Can Also Pay For It As Well

(An edited version of this article originally appeared in the May 2012 issue of JAVA Magazine)