Failures’ Union: Tethering

[9 May 2014]

By Zachary Houle

A ‘90s Alterna-Rock Sound

Failures’ Union is a bunch of lads from Buffalo, New York, who have a very ‘90s alternative rock aesthetic. The press materials for their latest release, Tethering, accurately describe the band as an amalgam of the Lemonheads, Dinosaur Jr., Guided by Voices and Superchunk. And, if anything, Tethering is a relentless listen: songs end and then the next song starts up on a dime without any chance of a pause or a chance for the listener to catch his or her breath. Which is sort of the modus operandi of Hüsker Dü in a live setting when I think about it. But, while this band doesn’t quite match the high bar set by said band, Tethering is still a largely appealing listen. “The Furthest Point” may just win the award for sounding exactly like something from GbV’s classic Alien Lanes era, just merged with the fierce intensity of Superchunk. So while Failures’ Union won’t exactly win awards for originality, this is appealing stuff for those who lament the sound of an era mined a generation ago.

If there’s any weak link to be found on Tethering (buh-bye), it is that singer-songwriter Tony Flaminio is more Hootie than Robert Pollard. However, with repeated listens, his voice becomes less of an acquired taste and something more appealing than a cast-off, casual listen may make it appear. And, overall, Tethering boasts songwriting that is very reminiscent of the ‘90s alterna-rock boom, which may be of interest for those into nostalgia. It’s apt that this was recorded in the studio belonging to the Goo Goo Dolls, as this effort captures the ramshackle punk energy of that band’s earliest recordings. It may be true that Failures’ Union isn’t the most original band on the planet, but with all of its references to landlines and credit cards to purchase items in catalogues, this outfit has a place for capturing a time and a place that no longer really exists. Tethering is one of those guilty pleasure records that you might cycle through on repeat: hardly innovative, but highly enjoyable nonetheless.

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