Friday, 23 September 2011

More Recommendations: This time for your ears!

Right then.  I may as well fling some more recommendations at the metaphorical wall to see if they stick.  As it was books this time, I’m thinking music.  Complement the visual with audio.  See where that gets us. 

TROPHY SCARS is the band I’m recommending to you now.  They’re one of my personal favourites (obviously).  But I’m only recommending their two most recent EPs: Darkness, Oh Hell and Never Born, Never Dead. 

I don’t get on with their old stuff.  They started off as one of your standard screamy post-punk bands, which to me just sound like noise.  They had their flashes of excellence, but there was too much unpleasantness for me to really enjoy.  Then they went hard for a jazz theme mixed in with all the rock, and it’s worked wonders.  I suppose the key to whether or not you’ll enjoy them lies with their vocalist Jerry Jones.  This guy has such a harsh rasp to his voice; it can really make a song ugly.  This can sometimes be a good thing, but not often, and I found with their earlier stuff that his vocal work very much worked against the quality of the musicianship quite often.  That said, he’s toned it down as of late and it fits very well with the tracks on the above EPs.  He can sing normally when he wants to, but his default setting is very much in gravel-garglingly gruff range.

Darkness, Oh Hell is definitely my favourite of the two EPs, being fairly heavy and dark in the songs and subject matter.  I could well go on a tear praising all of the songs on here, so I will.  The only track on list I don’t love is ‘Sauves-moi de l’enfer’, but that’s only an intro track.  It’s dark and atmospheric, but doesn’t really go anywhere if you get what I mean.  It does, however, lead into the next track well, and the next track’s a doozy. Nausea is my favourite track on the EP and indeed is one of my favourite songs, full stop.  It’s full of energy, strong jazz tones and engagingly apocalyptic imagery.  It’s very densely layered (as are all their songs, come to think about it) and is basically a monologue from the Antichrist.  Or something along those lines.  I’ll cover the other tracks very briefly, as my blogging time is running out.  Darkness, Oh Hell is catchy as anything and slows the pace of Nausea, but maintains the energy, working to a more definite and deliberate tempo and keeping the jazz influences.  It also ends with a cool protracted Twin Peaks sound bite, which actually drove me to buy the series (I’d heard of it, but never bothered to get into it beforehand).  Trazodone is the third track and is similarly excellent; telling a dark story about what I think is a drug addict burning someone to death in their bed.  Whether on purpose or by accident is left up in the air.  Sad Stanley is about the decline of a relationship and the final track, Time in Heaven, Forever in Hell details the aftermath.  TiH,FiH is particularly heartfelt and moving to me, and starts off with a fantastic guitar/piano pieces that compliment each other perfectly.  It’s up there with Nausea in my opinion.  Sometimes higher depending on my mood.

Never Born, Never Dead maintains to strong southern jazz motif establish by Darkness, Oh Hell but changes the mood.  By equal parts melancholic and romantic, this EP is all about relationships, seemingly through different lifetimes.  Very well structured and assembled, the tracks on display here all boast impressive density and variety of instrumentation, but never get overwhelmed with no particular element of the compositions running roughshod over others.  It’s technically very impressive and lyrically very affecting.  The tracks Never Born and Never Dead in particular can make me tear up on occasion; one being about a declaration of love between two people on their deathbeds and the other concerning a funeral from the perspective of the departed spirit.  Both are beautiful and I recommend them heartily.

Anyway, that’s it from me for the week.  Lunchtime’s up.

So long, my imaginary readers!

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