“Thoughts & Scares” by Darren Michael Boyd

If there’s something that Darren Michael Boyd wants us to know in his new album Thoughts & Scares, it’s that he has nothing to prove – quite the opposite, if you ask me. If anything, this is a guitarist who is sick of the nonsensical B.S. that comes off of the charts and onto the radio dial in 2023, and without a singer or a proper label to assign his music, he brings forth heavy rocking charisma instrumentally in Thoughts & Scares the likes of which this generation has not heard from a rock musician. 

“A Waste of Perfectly Good Sadness” has a sludgy bottom end, but it doesn’t leave us feeling drowned in overdrive at all. While the grimy exterior is initially a bit intimidating, the melodic gold that it’s protecting is like something out of a fairytale, prompting us to draw ever closer to the speakers in hopes of unearthing a few more hidden details. To me, Boyd is a master manipulator in songs like this one, “Toad Rage,” and the title track in Thoughts & Scares; deceptively simple, his approach hides a bevy of intricacies few could ever see coming from any contemporary artist in 2023. 

Songs like “Where the Crawdads Scream” and “Galactic Blood Ritual Roadshow” invite an almost operatic sensibility into the mix thanks to their progressive stylization, but external fluff isn’t something you should expect on encountering throughout this LP. Compositionally speaking, these are two songs that have a lot to show us in terms of how much Boyd loves being indulgent when he can get away with it, but in terms of what he utilizes as artistic fundamentals when he’s recording new music, it always starts and ends with the same six-string instrument he’s been making a name for himself with since the beginning. 

“Kickintheballs” and “Abusement Park,” the latter of which is the most extreme number on the album in my opinion, have the potential to be extended jams in a concert that I wouldn’t mind hearing a lot sooner than later, and quite frankly if I was in the position that Darren Michael Boyd is entering 2023 at, I would consider taking this show on the road and recording a proper live LP along the way. He’s got the moxie to do it, the sense of compositional comfortability to sell it, and a growing fan base that would likely be more than pleased to see him take the stage this year. 

2023 is slated to be an important impasse for a lot of rock bands both young and old alike, and if you’re into a bit of the past meshed with a future that sounds heavier than a tank, Darren Michael Boyd has got just what you have been looking for in the eleven songs that comprise Thoughts & Scares. His is a talent I can never tire of as a longtime rocker with a penchant for instrumental experimentations, and to those who suggested he couldn’t top his last release, this is a record you especially need to hear. 

Nicole Killian

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Nicole loves to go cross country skiing, swimming, reading and critiquing books, listening and critiquing music, some culinary arts, pottery, spending time with my daughter, cheesy horror films.

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