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Tugboat Annie - Wake Up and Disappear


Boston Magazine


This guitar-oriented quintet from Brighton has been compared to other Boston success stories such as the Pixies, the Lemonheads, and Buffalo Tom. Since its arrival in Beantown, it has released two full-length CDs: Superfriends, in 1995, and Wake Up and Disappear, this past spring, full of catchy, albeit moody, pop tunes.


The Fading Halo

Rating: 9 out of 10

Favorite Songs: American Special, Posterboy, Suicide Shoes, and all the rest.


This is Tugboat Annie's second album, the follow-up to 1995's Superfriends (on Sonic Bubblegum.) The strength of the album comes from the loud and raw guitar of Jay Celeste and Mike Bethmann, the pounding basslines of Jon Sulkow, the steady rhythm kept by Tim Barrett, and the raw vocals of Mike that give this album a different sound from most of the other indie bands out there.

Another thing that separates this album from what usually is on an independent label is the diversity of the music, and the feeling in the words. When Mike gets into "Suicide Shoes" you can feel him pouring his heart and soul into every note he sings and plays, which is also exemplified in "745," a song explained as being about The Loft in Buffalo where the band used to practice and party, before departing off to Boston.

In a perfect world this album would have hit platinum, as it has everything that a good album should have. It captures the love for music held by four guys, it captures the years of work that have gone into the band, and most of all, it captures what music should be about, the music.

-- Daiv Hogan


Heckler Magazine

Whenever you see a band for the first time, you can't help but wonder if they'll live up to their record or turn in a dissapointing performance that shows just how much work went into making their record sound good. I was at the ACME Underground as part of the CMJ Festival in New York City watching Tugboat Annie play live. Tugboat Annie did not dissapoint at all, sounding like their record but with even more energy.

After the band played I had a chance to talk with band members Mike Bethmann (guitar, vocals, lyrics), Jay Celeste (guitar) and Jon Sulkow (bass and the designer of the killer CD graphics for Wake Up). Tim Barrett completes the band on drums. Tugboat Annie was formed five years ago in Buffalo, NY by four friends who barely knew how to play their instruments. Later they all moved to Boston and put out their first album, Superfriends on Sonic Bubblegum. This is pretty amazing considering that Wake Up And Disappear has the sound of a fully formed, mature and confident band. I guess that it just goes to show that talent and creativity, given a chance to form without pressure or too many outside influences, training or pre-conceived ideas will develop into something unique and pure. This is not to say that Tugboat Annie is doing anything very new stylistically, they are just a rock band that writes and plays great songs. But in todays gimmicky, novelty laden musical industry that seems to promote style over substance, Tugboat Annie is kind of different. Great guitar based pop, simply but well produced, and somewhat in the vein of the Promise Ring, but more upbeat and a little more melodic. The songwriting is amazingly consistent; every one of the 11 songs on the album is great--no filler or throw away stuff. Lyrically, their songs seemed interesting, heartfelt and poetic but somewhat obtuse as well. Despite having heard the album at least 50 times, I really had no idea what they were singing about.(I like lyrics like that), So I asked Mike what the hell he was singing about. "It's mostly about the distances between people and the problems in bridging them at this particular moment in time. I'm not singing about anyone in particualr, it's more abstract. The whole approach is less narrative and more impressionistic or lyrical."

Later, we tangented on society and economics. "There's no place for simple people anymore." Mike went on, "Our society is so intellectual now, there's no more room for people who just want to lead a simple life." This seemed like a bit of a contradiction coming from someone who was an English major and also seemed rather depressing, which was at odds with Mike's casual, happy demeanor. Shouldn't he be more angst-ridden and tortured like most of the population of the Pacific Northwest? "Oh I don't know, I just work at a natural foods store and try and get by and have fun." Maybe Mike's casual yet serious attitude is part why this band seems like such a breath of fresh air. Or maybe it's because they were friends before they were in a band.

Later that month the band came through Sacramento and we went out for food before their show at Old Ironsides. They had an ice chest with a twelver of cheap beer between the front seats of their van and seemed a little dissapointed when I told them that open containers were strictly frowned upon in California. The previous night they had played in Portland and rather than doing the I-5 beeline, they detoured down the Oregon coast. "This trip has been great, we're getting to see all sorts of things. We're having lots of fun."

-- John Baccigaluppi



Thick rock pop with vocals that remind me of Richard Butler. This Boston band is heavy on guitars and pleading vocals, and most of the songs have a sense of urgency. While the rockers are enjoyable, the band comes off best when they relax and just let it happen ("745," "Push It Over Into Space"). I could've stood a little more variety in the areas of song structure and vocal stylings but hey...these guys came up with a very listenable disc and that's a GOOD thing. (Rating: 3)


Pop Culture Press

On their second release, Wake Up and Disappear, Tugboat Annie makes good use of distortion and layered guitars to bring out the power of the emotion in their music. Mike Bethman's gritty vocals and thoughtful lyrics are a dramatic complement to the melodic power and energy that builds on "Posterboy" and "King of the Stax." Ballads like "Suicide Shoes" and "Push It Over Into Space" are sweet and sad. The slow, powerful bass of Jon Sulkow is compelling together with the subdued drums of Tim Barrett. The layered, jangly guitar sound that Jay Celeste produces sounds somehow melancholy. This quartet has played with the likes of Weezer, Pavement, and the Mighty Mighty Bosstones, and I can see how that would make sense. This band's unusual sound could appeal to anyone who appreciates the disparate styles of those bands. Wake Up and Disappear is like a very genuine emotional roller coaster that is totally unpretentious and very interesting. (Penny Cadaret)


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