So. About a year ago I think I was the only person outside of New Jersey to like this band. Now there are like three others. And I guess that's enough to get signed to The Death Scene and release another EP. This band has released two EPs since their last LP, which is the result of slow but steady growth. After years of progress the band has done that "maturation" thing, like 90% of reviewers tout bands for doing between albums. "Maturity" is such a vague way to describe personal and musical development. How many times have we all read "they've really matured" or "they've grown as people and it shows in their music?" The irony of most of these statements is that they're untrue. Most bands that get this sort of empty, vague hype, end up releasing lame CDs that don't live up to the noise and inflation of the public.
Where does Trophy Scars' new EP fit into that seemingly pointless rant of mine? They have regressed. They had a year and a half between EPs, their first national tour, and have been signed to a newly formed record label, yet they have released seven weaker and more "immature" songs. At first listen it sounds like the same old Trophy Scars. The vocals come from all over the stereo and are still that cool whelping stuff. The guitar are still a mix of octaves, slow high-pitched riffs, and slow-moving chord progressions. The drums are still ridiculously cool and varied (Trophy Scars' songs feel like they have so much more depth with the juxtaposition of crazy drumming with slower guitar). But, this is not Trophy Scars' A-Game. They left that at home and brought that weak LA Clippers shit.
My main gripe about the album is the sceney quality to it. Sure, they're from NJ and owe their existence to the sounds of the area over there. Post-hardcore thrives in various forms (and forums) over there. The height of the scene to me is with Thursday, Trophy Scars, and Glassjaw (from Long Island but related) and the low is with Hawthorne Heights and Taking back Sunday. On Goodnight Alchemy, they have musical superiority like the Thursdays but they have the annoying scene idiosyncracies of the popcore bands, especially in their lyrics. You can blame myspace. You can blame Hot Topic. I don't care. In the end, Trophy Scars does annoying stuff. The song titles are ridiculous. Sure, their old ones were pretty silly but these ones are out of control. The generic breakdowns seem superimposed. The piano on "Traps and Tricks and Such" seems gratuitous, and though while they enhance the crescendo of the song, they don't have the overwhelming power and ambience of the piano on "There Are Ghosts." They seemed wasted and thrown in so they could have a song with piano. The lyrics are inane at points. "These demons aren't stopping this brilliant bloodbath behind my eyes" reads like a myspace headline or picture caption. It stinks of scene.
But then again, I'm treating that like it matters more than the actual music. I can waffle around and complain about the goofiness and immaturity of these nuances of the record, but I can't deny how much the actual music rules. Sure, the difference between good and great music is in fact those nuances, and x factors (that I believe Hospital Music (for the Aesthetics of Language) had), but this still rocks. I've presented this review in such a negative way because I'm sad they have changed their aesthetic ever so slightly in a way that ruins what they present to their audience. It sounds like they're catering to the crowds instead of making their own path. They've taken their niche style and abased it. Oh look at me complain like a spurned lover. The drumming is superb, the music remains unique, and they're more brutal than ever. Isn't that what I should be asking for with one of my favorite bands, instead of letting the scene get to me? Whatever. Rock on Trophy Scars. I guess in the end I'm the one who needs to sort out my confusions; not Trophy Scars. I'll tell you one thing though; I'm certainly not going to be buying any of their pink and black t-shirts.
Awesome review. I was thinking about ordering this last time I got stuff off Interpunk but didn't end up getting it and judging by your review, I think I'll download it first to see how they've changed. I do like this bands other stuff a lot though and I don't have too much of a problem with the "sceneness" of some bands, so maybe I'll like it. This Message Edited On 07.09.05
Well I got it in the post the other day from punkermentality, and I have to kinda agree with you there, even though theres some experimentation going around here like before, theres now a lot more generic stuff stuff going on. The first two songs are pretty sick, as well as lesson 3, which is also pretty cool. In the middle it wanders around though...not that they're bad songs or anything, just that after listening to 'Darts...' and 'Hospital Music' they seem a bit umm, bland.
But since they've been my favourite band for god knows how long, I'm willing to accept it. Still....nothing beats 'Eyes Baptised..' off 'Darts.' That song pwns.
trophy scars owns live...if you live in jersey, do yourself a favor and catch one of their shows. it took me longer to get into this album then the last, and i was dissappointed in the breakdowns mainly. on hospital music they had some really off the wall breakdowns, "the hair trigger flamenco" and 'thats where they found my body"..the random jazz piano parts. i miss that alot. lyrics seem weaker too. id five it a *** outve 5, cause i think this band could be one of the best in its genre.
[quote=marsvolta]trophy scars owns live...if you live in jersey, do yourself a favor and catch one of their shows. it took me longer to get into this album then the last, and i was dissappointed in the breakdowns mainly. on hospital music they had some really off the wall breakdowns, "the hair trigger flamenco" and 'thats where they found my body"..the random jazz piano parts. i miss that alot. lyrics seem weaker too. id five it a *** outve 5, cause i think this band could be one of the best in its genre.[/quote]
Ya that's one of the things that irked me. ON "..And That's Where They Found My Body" the piano was unexpected and really off the wall and cool. On "Traps and Tricks and Such" it's expected because they've already used that trick. Also, it's not as jazzy and affected. It just wallows around in the background, which pisses me off.
Theres a part in the middle of 'Don't Fuss' which does strike me as really cheesy, I dunno what you think of it. Theres a cool lead part, which begins after Jerrys sings something about ' Listen for John cus here comes the Solo' and ' He Plays All The Right Chords.'
That bit pisses me off. A lot. Even if it's meant to represent something lyrically I don't know. But I don't like it anyhows.
But on the whole, like you said it's just small things that taint the album. It's still excellent. Just Hospital music and Darts done it much better.
Trophy Scars is defenity one of the best bands out there. They are awesome live, I know it is ealry since Goodnight came out not too long ago, but I can't wait to hear the new stuff that they are working on now. I'd also like to see what they come up with now that they have a new bass player.
trophy scars are from my town..josh has no idea how to play bass if you ever noticed live. he kind of does, but is so sloppy and all he was good for was looking funny...their set is much tighter now (and the new bass player, andy, writes his own bass parts i hear!!! wowww..josh never did that) josh is important since he got the band off the ground and was a decent business man, but then he fucked up shit with a bunch of labels that were insterested...i think they have real management now, so if you suck at bass and mess up relationships with labels, why stay in the band? i have seen them twice with andy now and he is awesome and looks great on stage WHILE playing his parts correctly