Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Album Review: TS & the Past Haunts - Gone and Goner

Album Rating: A
The past few years have been a busy time for ex-Piebald front man Travis Shettel. After a few years of inactivity, he’s back in the spotlight. In 2010, Rise Records took it upon themselves to rerelease much of Piebald’s catalogue, resparking interest in the group, a pop rock band from a few years ago (if you are unfamiliar with them, I highly recommend checking them out). Shettel reintroduced himself to the world through a guest spot a year later on Aficionado’s “Honesty,” an impressive display that greatly heightened my anticipation for his full length release Gone and Goner. The album was to be released with supporting “The Past Haunts,” a group consisting of husband and wife Ben and Heather Heywood. Released through No Sleep Records, the debut LP is an eclectic yet fantastic collection of songs that are distinctly their own.

TS & the Past Haunts is quite the departure from Shettel’s previous work. On the group’s Facebook page, the genre is listed as “Hopefully you can’t fit us in anywhere,” an apt description of the trio’s sound. It can be loosely described as indie rock with folk and progressive influences, but even within the record the direction of the band is unclear. However, this is not to say that the record lacks flow or cohesion; in fact, the contrary is the case. Each song is distinctly TS & the Past Haunts. Each track just has its own flavor and direction
The album kicks off with opener “East Jesus,” firing into a surprisingly aggressive jam that leads into an upbeat whimsical portion of the song showcasing the group’s technical proficiency while still maintaining an indie lo-fi vibe, then closing on the same note that it started on. “Let’s be Lazy” is the third track, a great contrast to the opener, with a laid-back surf-rock influenced verse and a catchy and lighthearted chorus. Lyrically, the song is perfectly mirrored, “I’m not gonna work today, let’s be lazy, let’s be lazy. There is no other way, let’s be lazy, let’s be lazy.” The song features a bridge with a tasty Will Swan-esque lead that devolves perfectly back into the songs anthemic theme. Another great example of the individuality of each song can be found in “Unknown,” a track that begins with feedback and strange unintelligible noodling with great distortion that feeds into a slow and sludgy theme, finding Shettel at his angriest moment on the record, almost barking about the world “fading to black.” The attack is over as abruptly as it started, and before you know it, the group is back to their whimsical attitude, leaving the listener a bit flustered in a somehow pleasant fashion.

The production on the record is quite intriguing, featuring surprisingly grungy fuzz on many of the guitar leads that contrasts the crisp and almost subdued drum tones. The mix is particularly bass heavy, but through it all Shettel remains the center of attention. The tones are relatively standardized throughout, but the group took the liberty to experiment with the tones on the leads and “solos,” often venturing into unexplored and exciting territory.

Gone and Goner took a great number of listens to begin to decipher, and even more to really grow on me. However, after countless spins, I am really sold. The group capitalizes on Shettel’s name to draw in a crowd perhaps mostly only familiar with his previous poppier works, but exposes them to much more than they bargained for. TS & the Past Haunts has much more to offer beyond the catchy chord progressions and the incredibly appealing lyricism and vocal presence that was Piebald. The songwriting and creativity of the record is impressive, and Shettel is alluring as ever. With an open mind and an appreciation for interesting music, everyone will find something to cherish in Gone and Goner.

Track List:

01. East Jesus
02. Janice Haynes
03. Let’s Be Lazy
04. Circumstance
05. Unknown
06. The 33
07. Heaven In Your Hair
08. All I Can Tell You
09. Patience Is Just Waiting
10. Citrus Mistress

No comments:

Post a Comment