Since Tucson prog-inflected indie rockers Garboski began playing live again in 2013, after a long period of dormancy and with additional guitarist Ian Phillabaum (ex-Chango Malo) adding muscle to the sound, the quartet's performances have been better than ever.
Unfortunately, for most of the revitalized band's latest EP, "Nothing's Funny, I'm Broke," the excitement of Garboski has not translated to the recording studio. Garboski's greatest attributes—the delicate balance of space and dynamics, and virtuosity used as texture—are sometimes drowned out in overplaying and plodding production.
Phillabaum's guitar work does give the group a power it lacked before, and the songwriting is distinctive and discordant, as on "Complete Fucking Misery," a definite high point of the "Nothing's Funny" and a worthy addition to Garboski's best work.
Other songs, in particular "Reno Boy" and "Pinko Commie" trade in subtlety for bombast, and humor that was definitive to the group in the past is either completely buried or not present, and singer/guitarist Beau Bowen's voice, usually a very expressive instrument, relies on shouting in monochromatic angst.
While "Nothing's Funny, I'm Broke" may just be a detour and exploration of the most aggressive side of Garboski, and it is not without memorable hooks, the one-dimensional emotional and sonic spectrum here leaves the EP as easy to admire, but difficult to love.