Artist – Cup
Album / Label – Nothing Could Be Wrong / Aagoo Records
Rating – 8.5 / 10
Formed in 2016 as a solo recording project by New York based drummer Tym Wojcik, Cup has evolved into a four-piece ensemble that pushes the boundaries of what’s acceptable, caring not a whit if you like the macabre mojo that permeates their sound. They have never been ones to stay within a defined set of rules, preferring to strike out across the night sky with an eerily hook-laden vibe.
Comprised of Wojcik (guitar/vocals), Freddie Wyss (bass), Chad Sardashti (guitar/synth) and Kelsey Chapstick (drums), they take the listener on a dark and mythical journey through the nighttime of their NYC stomping grounds on their latest release, Nothing Could Be Wrong (Aagoo Records).
There are elements throughout that are reminiscent of Siouxie Sioux and Bauhaus, while others channel the beautiful destructive power of Killing Joke. Lest I forget, there are definite elements of the Palm Desert scene from the early 1990s, as well. Goth meets stoner rock in the back alleys of the Big Apple, not to mention despondent love songs sprinkled here and there.
Their music is not as campy as some of the more widely known horror-type bands, although when asked to describe their sound, I easily use the comparison of “Cup is like The Cramps on Valium.”
The album kicks off with the tribal beat of Chapstick’s drums announcing the opening strains of Night Lite. Wojcik’s vocals are hypnotic in their metronomic pace as he conjures the spirit of Killing Joke’s Jaz Coleman, building the tension until you are left wondering when it will all crash down around them. Alas, it finishes abruptly on somewhat of a high note.
Hideaway continues the cacophony of hypnosis, mesmerizing in the juxtaposition of Wojcik’s vocals with the flawless musical execution of the number by Wyss, Sardashti and Chapstick. They create a foreboding aura that is at once ethereal, while still crashing all about your cranium.
The title track, Nothing Could Be Wrong, begins with a slower tempo, lulling the listener into a false sense of respite. That feeling is short-lived, as the band dives right back in with a driving force that has pop hooks, new wave synths and an infectious melody that sticks with you even after the music dies away.
Pink Floyd had the wonderfully campy Bike on their 1967 debut, “The Piper at the Gates of Dawn.” In 2020, Cup responds with their modern day, darkly campy When We Ride. Light and airy, yet fully brooding with a darkness that gnaws at your skin, the band create a sonic assault on your innermost fears.
The deeply gothic tone of Swarm ensures that you cannot escape the feeling of impending doom, with Chapstick’s voice enveloping you in its warm embrace, reminding one of Siouxie Sioux’s darker lyrical numbers. The medieval monk-like tribal groove from the band is strangely comforting throughout the song, letting the listener down gently by its conclusion.
Wandering evokes images of the Palm Desert scene, with a hefty dose of gothic nuance thrown in for good measure. The middle portion of the number is a serenely dense piece of musique concrete, the cacophony building before Wojcik’s vocals add a fleeting semblance of normalcy.
Wyss’ bass sound lurks in the dank depths of the swamp to start the journey contained within Bright Blue Sea. The vibe is anything but bright, tinged with a melancholy menace punctuated by a quick jaunt into the depravity of Stanly Kubrick’s “A Clockwork Orange” before petering out like a clock winding down at the end.
The pace picks back up with Wrong Animal, a sinister hook-filled rocker that will get your toes tapping and your fists pumping in the air. Start to finish takes just 1:50.
With the band sonically dripping with the carcass of Bauhaus’ Bela Lugosi’s Dead, the instrumental Ghost Dan is fuzz-laden and leaves the listener lost in a morass of conflicting emotions. Their twisted sense of the surreal is on full display with no vocals to impede the trip into the netherworld.
Strange Dreamer evokes images of Link Wray’s surf guitar sound, if surfing at midnight with no moon and all kinds of nasty things waiting to sink their claws into you. This is the stuff of nightmares, heightening your senses and causing the adrenaline to course through your veins. The hypnotic refrain ends abruptly, as if the monsters finally found you.
This aural journey closes with the ironically comforting weirdness of You Don’t Need Anybody. The bad craziness abounds after a short vocal interlude that is short in length but long in meaning. Was I surprised by the cerebral qualities contained within this track? Not in the least, as this was the perfect way to conclude the album.
Cup embraced the dynamic of having four strong musicians contributing to the whole, making this album a wonderful adventure through the darkest and deepest recesses of the listener’s aural synapses. The fact that they were able to remind me of so many excellent bands from the 1960s onward, while not sounding dated, makes Nothing Could Be Wrong a “keeper” in this writer’s music collection.
- Night Lite
- Nothing Could Be Wrong
- When We Ride
- Bright Blue Sea
- Wrong Animal
- Ghost Dan
- Strange Dreamer
- You Don’t Need Anybody
Cup – Night Lite