Monday, September 03, 2007

Travis Morrison Hellfighters - All Y'all

Alright, so this isn't bad at all! Remember when his last record got a 0.0 from a certain online "indie rock" publication? Did it deserve such a low rating? Nah. I mean, I can see somebody accusing it of being "laughably horrible," but I can also see somebody saying the same thing about Emergency & I. Music that is flamboyantly obnoxious certainly does have the power to divide audiences like nothing else. But man, Travistan had a few perfectly enjoyable songs, remember? So how is it the worst thing ever? I don't know. Then again, these are the people who actually think that Wolf Parade is a listenable and not shitty rock band.

So let me just say that All Y'all is quite the improvement over Travistan, which despite an awesome song or two, sounded like shit and contained quite a plethora of awkward moments. Not enough to warrant a 0.0, mind you! It was kind of like a shity Paul McCartney solo album in that it's not that he was half-assing it, but instead just showing too much of an uninspired lack of restraint. This new one is solid, though! What does it sound like, hmm? Well, don't expect those early Plan-style freak-outs. Think more along the lines of Change. Remember how "Sentimental Man" and "Superpowers" were totally smooth and groovy? This is more of that. Except he takes it even further! That's right, dude actually presents a logical sort of progression of an earlier established sound! There are lots of electric pianos on here, which makes everything sound like Steely Dan-style "yacht rock." Seriously! And it's an interesting path to take, I feel.

Which brings me to one of the reasons that this thing really impresses me and why Travis the Solo Artist doesn't deserve the bad rap that has been unfairly thrusted upon him. Do you people really expect him to just make Dismemberment Plan records? They're not a band anymore! Lots of things you loved about the Plan will not be found in these Travis records! Travis, while clearly the central figure of the group, had as much to do with their sound as all the other dudes in the band. Looking for that classic D-Plan chemistry on these records? It's not there, sorry. So don't look for it. It's all Travis now. This is the sound of one (the most noticeable, at that) element of the Dismemberment Plan doin' it all on his own.

And it sounds great, in my opinion. Sure, he's got all of these chilled out yacht rock things goin' on, but he also does a lot of really cool, interesting shit that makes your ears perk up and go, "Huh?" The Sun Ra Arkestra-style horns in "I'm Not Supposed To Like You (But)," for one thing! They're awesome! He didn't have to throw them in for five seconds! But he did! And "Catch Up" is actually sort of proggy! The jazzy melody sounds like something the Soft Machine or some people would have played the shit out of, there's this one awesome, sudden change in the second half, all this shit. And there's a rapper in the chorus! And it all WORKS, goddamnit! That's the thing, this music sounds pretty normal, but it's just normal enough for him to be able to do all this cool shit like the twin guitar lines in "I Do" (sounds like Steely Dan again!) and not fall completely flat on his face. Or better yet, get the shit beaten out of him outside of a Gap! Which according to a certain online "indie rock" publication, is what all of Travistan is about. Except the songs about the presidents. And the one about all of those animals. And pretty much all of the other songs except for one. No, I will not let go of this.

Rating: These melodies really grab me, you know? I've been listening to this thing a lot... been really excited about going back to it. Just really good idiosyncratic pop music from a guy who knows a thing or two about making really good idiosyncratic pop music. I'd say that it's "a pretty competent pop/rock album," but that would be a lie, 'cause All Y'all is a hell of a lot more than just that. This shit stands on its own, mang. Good job, Travis.

Song: A video of Talking Heads playing "Cities" in Rome! AWESOME!!!

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