Music Reviews

Trailer Trash Tracys Ester

(Double Six) Buy it from Insound Rating - 7/10

In the ranks of inappropriate band names, Trailer Trash Tracys isn’t quite up there with Jackie-O Motherfucker, but it’s not that far away. The name evokes images of a Mötley Crüe-esque LA hair metal band from the 80s, or perhaps a shotgun and banjo-toting hill-billy group, complete with trucker caps and dungarees. Fortunately the band’s sound lies elsewhere along the rock spectrum, being a heady mix of the ethereal and the earthy.

Track one, Rolling (Kiss The Universe), is a short introductory piece comprising a stuttering rhythm and synth burbles that sound like excerpts from Louis and Bebe Barron’s extraordinary soundtrack to The Forbidden Planet. It’s a bit of a wrong-footer in a way, as the first song proper, You Wish You Were Red, starts with a riff that is more than reminiscent of Julee Cruise’s Falling, the main theme to Twin Peaks.  It’s a motif that recurs more than once in the course of the album, and is a key indicator of where the band’s major influences lie. The vocals here are of the sweetly indistinct variety, but carrying a hook that brings to mind girl groups of the sixties, as much as they do the Jesus & Mary Chain, albeit without the squalls of feedback over the top. Dies In 55 is sugary pop with a curious drum machine rattle that interjects an element of disjuncture – like it’s escaped from a mid-90s drum’n’bass track. Engelhardt’s Arizona is one of the most arresting tracks on the album, containing the best use of finger-tapping guitar I’ve heard since the heyday of Eddie Van Halen. The song re-appropriates the technique from the widdly-widdly brigade and reimagines it as a swirling vortex of cloud, around which the song is built. It’s certainly a brave risk to take, but it’s one that pays off.  

The impetus wanes a little mid-album, with both Los Angered and Starlatine suffering somewhat from a reverb overdose, swamping the actual songs in a wash of vagueness. Things return to form though with the album’s top track, Candy Girl, which begins with BIG drums and a gorgeous guitar riff, recalling Mary Chain again, but also Cocteau Twins, My Bloody Valentine and Phil Spector’s Wall of Sound. This time the reverb dial is turned way up, but here the effect complements the song – enhancing its otherworldliness. The album closes with another stunner, Turkish Heights, a dark and brooding song, with swirling guitar all ghostly and spooked vocals, leaving an indelible impression as the album closes.

All in all then, an unexpected surprise. I took a long time for me to get around to reviewing this, for the simple reason that I couldn’t decide whether I liked it or not. Finally I concluded that I did – my previously published mistrust of retro fetishists notwithstanding. But where this album succeeds is in sheer verve. Its vintage sounds are brought up to date by healthy doses of weirdness and noise that accentuate the retro-futurist stylings. In that respect they can join the likes of Broadcast and Stereolab – and coming from me that’s a big compliment. The album isn’t faultless by any means, but Trailer Trash Tracys have made one of the most interesting albums of recent months, and they are likely to receive a great deal of positive exposure in the coming 12 months, despite their misleading name.