Soul Pop Fusion
Desperate Spirits // Hop Hop Records – February 14, 2017
As an album, Personal Fables is one of the richest collection of eight songs to come out of Lexington in several years. This meticulous orchestration and arranging is made that much more impressive after realizing it was written and performed almost singularly by Trevor Tremaine – minus trumpet and saxophone, everything you hear here is his doing. The songs here are so densely-packed that they become fresher on each repeated listen, propelling them forward with constant momentum as they roll into the next of a seemingly endless supply of ideas.
The album opens with the manic “Personal Best,” which rolls the bassline, drums, guitar, and vocal riffs into one smooth hook – the track yields toward the final third of the song, setting up a great guitar solo through its end. “Life and a Day” has maybe the catchiest and most accessible chorus of the album, yet the song still manages to break the mold with its contrasting bridge (plus, I love the line “I am an idling time machine, and I’m going nowhere slow” that sets it up). On the first few listens, “The One and Only,” didn’t stick out to me a lot, but the tight rhythm and arrangement in the chorus eventually reveals itself as delightfully smooth and well-done. “Incompetence” is perhaps the track the benefitted the most from multiple listens. The lyrics carry the story from start to finish, and the lush instrumentation throughout the track make it one of the most immaculate, enjoyable listens of the album.
“Getting It” is punchy, clever, and self-referential – it pushes and pulls throughout the track, forcing you to listen closely (in which case you’ll hear little treats like “smoking squares outside the Speedway,” a quick line which has rolled around my head all week). The album reaches its most experimental point on “Beyond Cliche'” which walks the harmony all over the map, stretches an angular melody over top of it (while managing to make it fit naturally on top of the unusual progression), and packs in another quick, sharp spoken-word bridge. “You Have Lived” may be the album’s peak – as the penultimate track, it is arranged as a ballad, with only vocals and a shimmering organ. The lyrics here are just as sharp as on the rest of Personal Fables (and, at times, they even lean into the same tongue-in-cheek territory that many of the other songs inhabit), ruminating on the line “a life of no regrets is the only kind worth living.” Tremaine sings through a lifetime of missed opportunities, and by the time the song nears its finish, it swells into a gorgeously multi-tracked chorus of “you have lived” that carries through to the end. Closing the album is the quick “The Worst Thing that Could Happen,” which brings things full-circle into the same exciting territory of the album’s opener.
This album is thoroughly enjoyable – it manages to be smart, inventive, and wordy, while remaining catchy and fun. Its singular point of creative origin becomes more apparent upon each repeated listen, and Trevor never favors density of ideas over the ability of these ideas to work in harmony with one another – they’re simply arranged in a way that works. Personal Fables is a must-hear album, and is unlike anything else I’ve heard from Lexington.
Tracks I Liked: Personal Best!, Life and a Day!, Incompetence!!, Beyond Cliche’!, You Have Lived!!!
Ben Southworth – February 5, 2017 – Kenwick Place
Experimental Jazz Rock
February 5th, 2016 – auralgamiSOUNDS
Formerly D’Arkestra, Curio Key Club is the most recent evolution of the musical stylings of Louisville’s Drew Miller, fleshed out into a band of seven thoroughly talented musicians. Songs on Curio Key Club are even more patient and complex in their form and texture than the D’Arkestra music that came before them – the band having progressed to an even greater, more tasteful ability of playing off each other’s ideas. All seven musicians play as a hive mind, even in the most complicated and tempestuous moments of the album, staying welded together in their groove and interjecting at just the right moments. The album is well realized as a whole, pacing itself with both sung songs and instrumental tracks, building an intensity and carrying a momentum as it carries on. “Running Man,” one of the album’s pre-released singles is propelled by its drums and bass, with a rhythmically contrasting chorus – as a sub-four-minute track, it serves as a great representation of the band’s sound. The album’s final track, “Killing Fields,” hides five minutes of intricate instrumental work behind a somewhat less intense first half, before bringing the album to a close. Kudos to Kevin Ratterman of La La Land for his recording skills and for making such a complex album speak with such clarity; similarly, I really enjoyed the collaged art that Brandon Bass put together for the album’s packaging. It’s refreshing to hear music as thoughtfully orchestrated and tastefully complex as the songs on Curio Key Club, making the album an enjoyable and repeatable listen.
Tracks I Liked: Running Man!!!, Tweezer Chef!!, Faceless!, Slang Transit!, See Yourself!!, Killing Fields!!!
Ben Southworth – February 3rd, 2016 – Kenwick Place
Genre: Experimental Jazz-Fusion
I’m a bit behind on writing this review, but when I received this album, I was immediately excited to just listen to something for the sake of listening to it (a rarity nowadays, haha.) Lead by saxophonist Drew Miller – who has also shared his talents with Lucky Pineapple and Another7Astronauts – the album is a great bit of experimental jazz, and the influences of these bands can be heard in this recording. Whether the track features vocals or not, the song is allowed to play out before the band introduces the next idea. The album’s title track is probably the best on here, as it accomplishes all sorts of good things – instrumentally, vocally, structurally – and shows off the jazz training of the band members quite well. The rest of the album moves along like this, with a dizzying sound that staggers along, but never gives the feeling of falling over. It’s recorded very well, and if you (like me) are a little slow on the uptake of this local talent, I’d certainly recommend checking out.
Tracks I Liked: Jazzist!!, Halogen!, Ghost Town!!!, Ghetto Boo… I Miss You! (nice and funky), Squares and Squares!!, Boogaloo!
– Ben Southworth