the gifted children
the gifted children is a music collective centered in rochester and buffalo, ny. while main songwriter jeff suszczynski and several others remain in western new york, various contributors have moved and now live in virginia, minnesota, brooklyn, north carolina, and california. since forming in 1995, the gifted children have released 13 albums, over 30 EPs and singles, and a boxed set, with several dozen unfinished albums currently being worked on. stylistically they range from art rock to folk, electronic to indie rock, ambient to shoegaze.
The discography on this page does not include the annual gifted children christmas LPs/EPs; you can stream/download all 10 of them on the christmas releases page.
bethesda maroons you
Release date: March 28, 2014
A digital-only single from future album a new litany (to be released in 2020), this song is a wistful 2-minute slice of 1960s-influenced pop, filtered through an indie rock lens.
tim grimaldi - drumset
isabel hernandez-cata - voice
jeff suszczynski - guitars, basses, pianos, voices
no one will know we were ever here
Release date: December 13, 2012
a 5-song EP that plays like a suicide note from a band left largely ignored for the past 17 years... this certainly isn't the end of the gifted children, as there are too many excellent unreleased tracks for them to give up at this point, but they've allowed all the self-doubt and depression run rampant on this short but great release.
starting off with a playful self-stab with faux-anthemic ending (the bill trautman-penned 'ballad of an aging indie rocker'), the uptempo second track ('our hobby is a bust') starts the descent into implosion with a repeated, semi-humorous/semi-sad, self-deprecating refrain ('our hobby is a bust/no one will know we were ever here') to close out the first side... the second side takes things to a darker place, with the songs progressively turning further inward, from self-reflection ('your mythologies') to self-doubt ('my building is crumbling') and eventually to self-destruction ('something's dead inside).
this is the sound of a band exploring its own psyche and not finding a happy resolution to anything, somehow encompassing an arc that feels complete over the course of only 8 minutes.
our sporting lives
Release date: July 3, 2012
musically, the gifted children children are still keeping things interesting and richly textured while sticking with their short-and-sweet formula. the title tracks begins with a psychedelic swell of backwards guitars, droning keyboards and slide bass, reaching its peak with a short and catchy verse-chorus led by acoustic guitars and double-tracked voices. next up is harbinger ebbward, which starts with acoustic guitars and keyboards, then drops into a simple keyboard/voice verse before blowing up again into a classic gifted children coda, complete with drum loops, noisy keyboards and melodic saxophones. the closing track is a quieter, piano-led song which sees some noisy keyboards slowly overtaking the plaintive vocals. in all, this is a short (less than 6 minutes long!) EP that refines the recent sound of the band, while still managing to add a few new tricks.
the portable sun
Release date: July 14, 2011
the portable sun, the latest EP from the gifted children, was recorded using only the built-in microphone on an iPhone 3G and an app called 'Multitrack'... using this restriction as a tool rather than a hindrance, the gifted children have carefully crafted a surprisingly great-sounding EP, containing a lot of varied sounds:
'the rapture is a wash' and 'lie detectors' are mostly acoustic, with double-tracked drums, pianos, harmonicas, and pretty vocal harmonies. 'cemetery photo club' fills out a short vocal passage with ebows, staccato piano and frenetic drumming, while 'dark heart' closes out the first side with a simple piano and vocal line which explodes into fuzz bass and droning saxophones.
the second side begins in classic gifted children style: short, quirky indie rock with a hook that purposely ends shortly after it begins. 'the short sugar' features a great little group singalong, something that is becoming more frequent for the gifted children lately. 'parenthetical nashville blues' is a beautiful piece of melancholy, bringing a quiet moment to the EP before the title track closes things out with a gradually building array of instruments, including guitars, pianos, banjos, saxophones and the unmistakable voice of pam swarts.
montgomery blue ash
Release date: April 12, 2011
'montgomery blue ash' is a free 4-song EP from the gifted children. written and almost entirely recorded in a single day by jeff suszczynski and bill trautman in gastonia, north carolina, it sounds unmistakably like the gifted children yet different from anything they've done so far.
in addition to binding themselves to write the songs from scratch in a single day, they also forced themselves to delete the first track recorded for each song. so throughout the brief but richly varied EP, you can hear the band stepping out of their normal comfort zone: lead-off track 'face to face with constellations' is angular indie rock with electronic and funk touches, 'otolith angels' plays like a nihilist hymn with a stein-waving group vocal, 'disciples of languor' mixes doom rock with a dark dance beat to great effect, and the closing title track adds and subtracts layers of instrumentation under a simple vocal mantra.
Release date: January 11, 2011
the first 2011 release for prolific western new york band the gifted children is the 5-song 'fallacy stilts' EP.
this is a different-sounding EP for the band - most of the tracks were recorded in a single day and night in a makeshift studio set up in a library, contributing to a feeling of spontaneity and collaboration throughout. from the haunting, post-apocalyptic 'if the accident will' to the catchy campfire sing-along on 'i have a lake', 'fallacy stilts' is also less reliant on the band's usual cavalcade of indie rock guitars, instead leaning more heavily on woodwinds, acoustic guitars and pianos.
the autumn parade
Release date: October 29, 2010
just a couple months after the release of their 5-CD boxed set, 'building your lo-fi shelter', the gifted children are back with some great new material for your fall soundtracks. 'autumn ghosts', over the course of just 5 songs and 10 minutes, once again showcases the gifted children's ability to create a single cohesive arc of out many disparate elements...
the opener, 'come on, november', features piano and bass reminiscent of 1950s pop, with only some latter-half static entering the mix to let you know this EP isn't going to remain as straightforward as it starts. 'second hearth' and 'abstinence heroes' sound more like 'typical' gifted children songs: short, atmospheric, quirky, and filled with hooks. then the title track, an instrumental, slowly builds in grand fashion from a simple, repeated acoustic motif into full-blown electronic noise. the EP ends with 'calamity vessels', a spare and pretty song with just acoustic guitar, piano and voice.
please freeze me
Release date: March 2, 2010
10 winter songs, soaked in cavernous reverb. a perfect album for wallowing in a cold midwinter weekend.
one clear minute, volume 02
Release date: October 27, 2009
just a little more than a month after the first volume of the 'one clear minute' series was released, we're happy to announce that volume 02 is ready for release! once again, there's one rule: the maximum song length is 60 seconds. in that single minute, the gifted children have managed to create 9 more fully realized songs, not just little fragments or tossed-off ideas.
volume two again has a wide variety of sounds, ranging from noisy mini-anthems ('the arrhythmic fervor') to straight-up indie rock ('supper club', 'plebeian assault') to beatlesque pop ('welcome to sex in the 90s') to more stripped down, acoustic songs ('american night', 'empty homes') and more... 9 songs, 8 minutes, a lot of ideas and, perhaps most remarkably, a coherent flow from start to finish to make this a true mini-album.
my museum pieces
Release date: September 15, 2009
the next full-length release from the gifted children brings the largest cast of characters yet, with over 15 people contributing to the sounds of the 11 new songs.
this album has everything from bombastic group sing-alongs ('you smashing young prince') to quiet folk songs ('a weathervane alliance') to apoplectic sax screams ('offshore news') to crazy, noisy electronic beats ('and so it ended'), all cohering together for a great autumn record.
one clear minute, volume 01
released September 15, 2009
one clear minute, volume 01, marks the beginning of a new vinyl 7" series from the gifted children. responding to some who complained of too-short songs over the years, they decided to write and record several dozen songs with one rule: the maximum song length is 60 seconds. in that single minute, the gifted children have managed to create fully realized songs, not just little fragments or tossed-off ideas. and 7" vinyl is the perfect medium to exploit for such a project - each volume of the one clear minute series will contain 8-11 songs, making for mini-albums on each record.
volume one kicks off the series with a wide variety of sounds, with straight-ahead indie rock ('forget about the mountains'), piano ballads ('dirigible army'), oddly catchy diatribes ('no saviors, please'), beatlesque ('marina sirtis') and much more... these 9 songs pack more coherent ideas into a mere 8 minutes than many full-length albums.
released March 31, 2009
open windows is the third release in a month for the gifted children! this 7-song EP packs a ton into a mere 11 minutes:
the title track's simple, repeating piano line ends up crashing into a cinematic wall of distorted bass, drums and saxophones to set the stage for the rest of the EP. there's also a completely re-recorded version of 'a forest', with its crescendo of delayed guitars, pianos and mandolins; 'rescate', a starkly pretty song about lost potential; noisy mini-anthem 'here comes the flood'; a sweet piano/voice/upright song, 'transcription (a certain sweetness)' and much more...
the reginald pantry
Original release date: early 2009; reissue with bonus tracks and e-books: April 15, 2014
the gifted children released their experimental album, the reginald pantry, five years ago; this 14-song album was imagined as a soundtrack to an imaginary zombie film. Now, author J.A. Johnson has written a novelization of the imaginary movie, inspired by the sounds and arc of the album.
"The Reginald Pantry: a Zombie Chronicle" contains the 'novelization' of the imaginary movie, in addition to links to the original music, special features, photos, deleted scenes and an alternate ending. Structured like a movie on DVD, "The Reginald Pantry: a Zombie Chronicle", is an amazing reading (and audio) experience!
This unique and non-linear project is now available electronically - the gifted children have re-issued 'the reginald pantry', including 7 bonus tracks as 'deleted scenes', which is included with purchases of the eBook. Similarly, purchases of the album include a free download code for the eBook.
always stay sweet
Release date: October 14, 2008
'always stay sweet' is the the second full-length, and already the 9th (yes, we said 9th!), overall release for the gifted children in 2008...
From a 70-second pop anthem for the underdog ("the straw brigade") to a cello-filled ode to dying in plane crashes ("the dancehall atlantic") to a chamber-music-meets-Aphex Twin rumination on muses to the beautiful noise of the title track, 'always stay sweet' is another highlight in their prolific body of work.
For those who like comparisons, think Guided by Voices communing with Broken Social Scene and Red House Painters and you're partly there.
a turncoat spring
Release date: April 29, 2008
more parallel-universe hits from the prolific western new york band the gifted children. "a turncoat spring," already their 7th release so far this year, veers from catchy mantrarock ('halo') to paranoid apocalyptic fantasies ('the kingdom plentiful') to their shortest song yet recorded ('sum total' clocks in at a mere 11 seconds). this time, all the songs were written and recorded in a single night. substances may have played a role in the making...
Release date: March 28, 2008
A 4-song EP originally released in very limited quantity on People in a Position to Know Records, this is a clear, lathe-cut 8" vinyl EP with silk-screened, handrawn cover and labels. Contains the only recorded versions of live favorites 'favorite constellations' and 'secret mayors of small towns'.
This has been sold out and completely unavailable since 2008 - we’re now offering it as a free (donations always appreciated) download!
we saw the vultures
Release date: March 11, 2008
the gifted children's 21st release, this is a 6-song EP that summons the ghosts of autumns past. Capturing the transition from summer to school, from warmth to an isolating cold, from present-tense action to nostalgia for the past... Featuring an alternative version of "we saw the vultures" from the full-length whitespace differences.
Release date: February 2, 2008
This is the 5th full-length by the gifted children (Buffalo and Rochester, NY), and their 20th release to date. Everything from shoegaze to short stabs of quirky pop to noisy electronic instrumentals... A true winter album, this is the perfect friend for those dark January nights spent drinking alone.
the commonwealth squelch
Release date: September 7, 2005
From a 48-second anthemic ode to co-dependence ('laboring in the dream factory') to the creation of a parallel-universe dance craze ('the commonwealth squelch'), this is jam-packed indie rock action.
Note: Originally released on Beat the Indie Drum/Big School Records as BTID-001 (https://www.beattheindiedrum.com/?p=9)
chinese food takeover
Release date: March 17, 2001
The short, catchy, indie rock songs of the gifted children past begin to flirt with more ambitious post-rock noises and knob-twiddling, outlining the shape of the gifted children to come. You shouldn't be bored by this album.
mastering the buddy system
Release date: October 13, 2000
A 7-song lo-fi indie rock EP. Summed up nicely by a couple of review snippets:
"Songs that alternate between quick pop gems and experimental freak outs." - buffalo beat (4 out of 5 stars)
"the songs have a strange beauty." - Shredding Paper
Release date: April 15, 2000.
The first (and, in hindsight, only) studio-recorded album by the gifted children, this is a good overview of the indie rock/folk that they were making in the late 1990s. 17 songs spanning a multitude of styles, ranging from folk to indie rock to alternative to quirky electronic pop.
the year of living dangerously
Release date: May, 1998
This marked the end of an era for the gifted children, as it’s the last release recorded on Jeff’s Tascam 424 (cassette 4-track); shortly after its release, both he and Justin bought minidisc recorders and left the analog four-track days behind. It makes sense that this was their last EP recorded on four-track cassette, as the production and arrangements were starting to grow more complex, requiring more track bouncing and careful editing - a transition to 8-track digital recording seems inevitable in hindsight.
Release date: December, 1997
The second EP written and recorded in a single day by Jeff Suszczynski and Bill Trautman, nearly a year after their first foray into the ‘make a record in a day’ challenge. In addition to some indie folk with an experimental twist, there are hints of the art rock that the gifted children went on to regularly produce in later years (‘the ending of a foul matrix’, ‘the diva’).
Release date: November, 1997
This EP collected songs written between 1995-1997 that hadn’t found homes on previous releases. Like many of the gifted children EPs/LPs during this 4-track cassette period, it never really circulated officially, only existing as a few cassette copies circulated among band members. Features ‘colorfast anthem’, the song that would inspire the title of their colorfast anthems LP, as well as longtime live show staple, ‘american chrome’.
imaginary girls, volume i
Release date: June, 1997
A brief but interesting 5-song EP, recorded entirely in one day at Justin’s parent’s house on Grand Island. Where previous 1997 releases (flowers for trudy and april) were essentially solo Jeff releases, this EP features a couple of songs written collaboratively, as well as multiple performances by Justin and Nick (Bill was supposed to be a part of this recording session but showed up late; his only appearance is some background talking that can be heard at the end of ‘when she was good’).
Release date: June, 1997
A 5-song EP written and recorded by Jeff in April, 1997. Never properly released, aside from a few copies given to bandmates, this EP shows a definite movement towards Pavement-esque indie rock and away from the indie folk that appears in most prior releases, even featuring some repeated choruses and a couple guitar solos (albeit purposefully atonal ones). It may also be the first release by the gifted children to have drums on every song.
flowers for trudy
Release date: March, 1997
A short album written and recorded by Jeff during the months of winter 1996-1997 at the house he shared with Bill and Brett during the early years of TGC; only a few copies were sold/given to friends and bandmates. Features early versions of several songs (‘gaelen gets her way’, ‘parasol legs’, ‘screen guild nominees’) which would soon be included in live shows and later re-recorded for other releases.
Release date: January, 1997
This EP, like many others recorded in this time period, was never really officially released, aside from a few cassette copies distributed to other band members. It marks the first in what would become a series of EPs in which Bill and Jeff wrote and recorded all of the tracks in a single day; in this case, it was a post-Christmas day off (December 27, 1996) that sparked the creativity to go start-to-finish on 7 songs (plus a bonus 13 minute jam that was added as a hidden track on those few cassette copies).
the festival of lights
Originally slated to be released in December 1996 as a 7", but that plan was aborted. These songs were never officially released on cassette or vinyl, despite the band having a fondness for both songs. ‘best wishes, good luck’ later saw the light in re-recorded form on the colorfast anthems LP in 2000.
the queasy dream
Release date: November, 1996
This album was written and recorded in November, 1996, by Jeff Suszczynski, as part of a challenge to write an album in a week, using “chapter” names from Kurt Vonnegut’s Cat’s Cradle as starting points and titles for each song.
Release date: October, 1996
This EP never got beyond a few unlabeled copies circulating on cassette. It features more collaboration than its immediate predecessor, Bathtub Full of Dreams, in part due to the fact that these were the first songs the band recorded after Brett, Jeff and Bill moved in to a house together in late September, 1996. While a bit of a return to the acoustic folk of the earliest TGC recordings, it has new splashes of sound (organ, sax and drum machine on ‘usurpatory rhumba’; some slightly wild effects on ‘garmonbozia 1’). This EP also features the saxophone debut of the diligent Brett Dreyer, as well as an introduction to the mythological multi-instrumentalist, Bob R. Trumpet.
bathtub full of dreams
Release date: September, 1996
The first full-length album by the gifted children, this is a solo affair written and recorded by Jeff in September, 1996 on his Tascam four-track. Originally released on cassette, only a few copies were given to family, friends and bandmates… This album marked the beginning of a shift away from acoustic folk songs and toward a lean approach to indie rock that would continue to evolve over the next few years.
my little iron curtain
Release date: Summer, 1996
The third release by the gifted children, this again was a very low-key affair. No covers were ever made, and copies only circulated among bandmembers. In fact, some of the songs remained unfinished until 2007, when finishing touches were added for the Building Your Lo-Fi Shelter boxed set
the ice palace
Release date: February, 1996
The second release by the gifted children, recorded over college break, December 1995/January 1996. Only a few cassette copies of this were ever made, and possibly only ever distributed to band members and a few friends. It's sad ('fulcrum', 'midas'), it's goofy ('grand moff tarkin', 'protest song'), it has a cover of a classic car crash song ('Last Kiss'), and it has our first of many one minute songs ('crowned'), a bit of a taste of the shape of things to come.
Release date: August, 1995
The first release by the gifted children, this was mostly recorded in a single weekend during a living room party. The original format was cassette, with a different puffy mushroom sticker on each cover. Only ~30 tapes were ever sold/made. This is definitely proto-GC: very folky, almost entirely acoustic, and comprising some of the longest songs in the gifted children canon (ranging from 3-6 minutes!).