Greater Cincinnati Queerpunk Trio Creamboy Makes Their Impressive Debut with 'Clean Up My Mind'

Clocking in at just over 26 minutes, the album is a potent showcase of Theo Backus' estimable writing skills and the band's simple yet intense performance chops

Apr 15, 2020 at 4:01 pm
click to enlarge Greater Cincinnati Queerpunk Trio Creamboy Makes Their Impressive Debut with 'Clean Up My Mind'

Although the Dayton/Cincinnati mash-up trio Creamboy has only been around since early 2018, there's a good deal of experience in its collective DNA.

Singer/songwriter Theo Backus has been a solo singer/songwriter in and around their native Dayton since high school; bassist Hally Fulford played in the band Salt Orchard; and drummer/multi-instrumentalist Elijah Batson fronted his own project, Blueprints and Elements, and then joined Frontier Folk Nebraska as their new drummer in time to contribute to songs from their latest album, Freaks.

The seeds of Creamboy were planted when Fulford's band opened several gigs for Backus, and Fulford subsequently hung around to accompany Backus, who had never played in a band context at that point. The solidified duo eventually tweeted out the call for a drummer to join their ranks; Batson saw the tweet but had just joined Frontier Folk Nebraska and was not particularly interested in adding another band to his schedule, so he didn't respond.

Weeks later, Batson received a direct text from Fulford, whose brother was a high school friend of Batson's, with a personal request for his drumming expertise. Batson acquiesced and was instantly captivated by Backus' songs and now divides his time between Frontier Folk Nebraska and Creamboy.

The band's recorded debut, Clean Up Your Mind, is either a long EP or a short album, clocking in at just over 26 minutes, but it's a potent showcase of Backus' estimable writing skills and the band's simple yet intense performance chops. Identified in some circles as Queerpunk, Creamboy is a fascinating mix of Indie Rock, Folk and Punk, a visceral sonic cocktail blending shots of Velvet Underground, Ani DiFranco and Violent Femmes, filtered through Creamboy's uniquely contemporary perspective which leans in the direction of Diet Cig.

The album's lead track, “Brain Scans,” intros with the song's lo-fi demo, which quickly shifts to the lightly polished studio translation, highlighted by a lovely fingerpicked Folk riff and a bracing Punk attitude. The title track displays Creamboy's distinct Lou Reed/Gordon Gano atmosphere: if they somehow never experienced either songwriter, they've deftly tapped into a similar vein of expression.

Creamboy's longest song, the nearly five-minute “Sick Dog/Glass of Water,” has the unmistakable aura of a Nirvana demo, with the trembling potential to gear jam from quiet reflection to face-peeling intensity at the drop of a chord. At the shorter end of the spectrum, the just-over-two-minutes and provocatively titled “Christ on a Stick,” offers additional subtle Nirvana reference points, namely incisive lyrical observations and an irresistibly discordant melodicism.

Due to a West Coast internship through the University of Cincinnati's art program, Fulford was unavailable for the recording of Clean Up My Mind; the bass slot was ably filled by Batson, on the tracks he recorded with Backus, and by Batson's former Blueprints and Elements bassist Hunter Haney on the tracks recorded by former Lazy/Tigerlilies guitarist, current Black Plastic Records owner/operator and renowned soundman about town Steve Schmoll.

Clean Up My Mind, which is available on the trio's Bandcamp page, is a brief but head-spinning introduction to Creamboy, and the good news is that the band is already hard at work on its follow-up.

And as soon as we can shake the shackles of our collective quarantines, Creamboy will be back where they make an even better noise: onstage in front of an audience.

Check out Backus' Facebook Live performance of the album: