TRASHED ON FICTION Words Trails Maps (ESCHE)
Trashed on Fiction sound old. That’s not meant as a derogatory description of any sorts, more a matter of fact sort of thing. On their new record, Words Trails Maps, the four-piece Brooklyn outfit play roots rock in the grand tradition of Creedance Clearwater Revival, Them and Crazy Horse. This means lots of massive sounding guitar riffs, crashing drums that sound magnificently gleeful, and a studio ethic that takes the lo-fi aesthetic of the indie scene and turns it into a manifesto of intent to bring the listener back to the days when rock and roll was fresh and vibrant instead of the tricked-out cliché it is today. The aforementioned studio ethic is a double-edged sword of sorts: at certain moments it sounds energetic, live and infectiously immediate, while at others it sounds home-made and beat-up, as if it was recorded in a music store, a kitchen, the back of a van, and two bathrooms. Oh hey, waddya know, it was!
Moving on past the sound, though, the songs are surprisingly good. Without much studio trickery to lift up the songs, Trashed on Fiction have only the palette of rock and roll’s three primary colors (drums, bass and guitar) to paint from, and they don’t disappoint. The record opens with the aptly-named January, with a tom boom and guitar explosion leading into a rollicking riff that threatens to blow open the puny mp3 file holding it together. Matador, too, is reasonably good, with a punchy middle section that is enjoyable headbangable. All high octane stuff that still manages to infuse typical indie melody into the mix. So far, so good. By the third track, though, the band’s lo-fi home made sound is getting rather grating, which is a pity because Safety Net is a lovely number with washes of rootsy melody exemplified in the song’s nostalgic refrain, “darling, did I love you?”
Fourth track, Killing Grounds, is a relatively quiet and down-tempo country-drenched number that gets particularly mesmerizing towards the end, where the crashing cymbals and lyrical guitars intertwine to shush a throbbing bass to sleep. Seventh track Beggar sees stabs of fuzzed out guitar punctuate the air menacingly before revving up into a melodic march highlighted by humming keyboards that slowly builds up to a beautiful climax. Beatification takes an unexpected detour into bossa nova, almost sounding like a looser and rootsier version of Radiohead before firing into more familiar territory with Unfit/Unzip, a number that brings to mind early Kings of Leon. The album closes with the noise-stretching, experimental and epic sounding number One A Side, a whirlwind of distortion and howling winds that quiets down after four minutes to reveal acoustic guitars and shuffled drums at the eye of the storm.
Gutsy and vibrant, Words Trails Maps is a record that will demand your attention almost as much as it rewards it. It’s a record that captures both the heat of the sex as well as the post-coital embrace afterwards, a record that is as lived-in as it sounds. Invest a few hours into repeated listenings; you won’t be disappointed.
(Samuel C Wee)
Check out Trashed on Fiction’s Myspace page.