‘Foley’ captures the essence of adolescence
You might have seen Foley around campus if you happened to be attending one of Hofstra Concerts’ weekly coffeehouses or if you were just casually grabbing dinner in the back of the Student Center and were treated to some soft acoustic guitar as your background noise. Or you might have caught them just off campus, at the much buzzed-about open mic at the High Hopes house, just a hop, skip and a jump away from the Breslin parking lot. Though they’re very low-key, Foley are always a delight to watch live. And now the quirkiness of their live performances has been captured in their debut LP, “The Head Honcho in the Red Poncho.”
The band consists of three freshmen – Eddie Byrne on guitar, lead vocals and keys, Tom Parisi on bass and Joe Guzzardo on guitar and percussion. All of the songs are written by Byrne and mixed by Parisi. The album cover, shot by Livingston Farrand on the “Thursday Nite Live” soundstage, features freshman Robert Kinnaird clad in – you guessed it – a red poncho. Their Bandcamp profile picture is a grainy cellphone shot of them playing at High Hopes. In short, this album is nothing if not an extremely Hofstra endeavor.
This is a good thing if this album and this band can set the tone for what Hofstra’s practically non-existent music scene could become. Their sound almost borders on cliché, but they keep it fresh with outstanding lyricism and short, weird little interludes between songs, such as “Intermission: Professor Time’s Redventurous Ride,” a 39-second epic romp that culminates in a declaration of “I’ve been slain!” and a choir singing. Usually, with concept albums (and I’m still trying to figure out if this is indeed a concept album or just a weird album) it’s the interludes that give the listener a more slow-paced break from the fast-paced action of the main tracks. Here, it’s the opposite, which is just as interesting, if not more so.
Byrne has a penchant for crafting impeccable pop melodies flawlessly delivered with just enough of a raspy, twangy edge to his voice so as to infuse every song with a distinct folksy sensibility. And of course, there’s that outstanding lyricism, as previously mentioned. “Pass Right Thru” is the shortest non-interlude song on the album at just under two minutes, and it contains one of my favorite lyrics on the album and possibly one of my favorite lyrics of all time: “As long as I am bound to my corporeal form / I will use mine just to keep yours warm.” The song immediately after, “Getting Closer,” is a standout track on the album, stripped down to just a finger picked acoustic guitar and Byrne’s melancholic vocal delivery. It’s a deeply sad song, and the irony of the lyric, “She said ‘you’re too young to feel this,’” is palpable.
If anything, Foley perfectly capture what it feels like to be young, from the reckless abandon of “Billy Snacks” to the saccharine puppy love of “Photosynthesize” to the staunch grief of “Getting Closer.” Deeply sentimental and deeply silly, The Head Honcho in the Red Poncho is a must-listen for 2018. Be sure to catch Foley playing High Hopes on Mar. 9 with the Lords of Liechtenstein, Christine Sweeney and Machinist.