Review Summary: Very rarely does an album seem to capture emotion and purpose like this.
Trash Talk has had a healthy underground career, garnering positive reviews from their past work (even from the folks at Pitchfork), and gaining a large following of dedicated fans in the process. After a series of attempts with producers, Trash Talk decided to be their own producer on 119, writing and recording the record at the Trash Talk Collective headquarters, where they live, practice, skate, and party; as vocalist Lee Spielman has stated, "Our neighborhood has definitely been a big influence on the record -- seeing the street-level *** that's going on around us." Their alliance with Odd Future seems warranted, and poetic at the same time. Both collectives are known for similar musical attitudes, and intense, almost violent, live shows, due to enthusiastic fan-bases. 119 is Trash Talk's finest album, musically, but it goes above that. In 22 minutes, Trash Talk defines who they are, where they've been, and the bright future they have in store.
Silent cymbal taps and feedback, which precede "Eat the Cycle," set the tone for the whole record. The lo-fi production is emblematic of everything that constitutes 119; fast paced, driving hardcore, fueled by fast riffing, and the powerful screams of Lee Spielman. Single, "F.E.B.N.," showcases Trash Talk at their most comfortable. Sam Bosson pounds away during the song's introduction, and Garrett Stevenson's guitar riffs give way to a heavy, anthemic chorus, which finds Spielman shouting, "Onward, upward, always. Foward ever, backwards never." One of the more musically diverse tracks is "Apathy," which comes across as a sinister take on a Black Keys song, and is much less aggressive than most other songs on 119. The track is characterized by a slick bass-line, and an experimental mid-section.
The highlight here is the Odd Future collaboration, "Blossom & Burn," which features rapper Hodgy Beats, and the Odd Future ringleader himself, Tyler, the Creator. In the vein of slower, older songs like "Hash Wednesday," the Trash Talk rhythm section pounds away to a slow rhythm, as feedback pulses through the speakers, aside Spielman's shrieks. The marriage between hip-hop and hardcore is beautiful here, but looks awful on paper. Hodgy Beats impresses with his aggressive, nearly screamed, verse, and Tyler proves that he is worthy of the collaboration; his deep voice hardly needs any altering for a hardcore song, as he manages to fit in with ease.
"Exile on Broadway" slides back on classic punk roots, featuring a groovy bass-line, and emitting a more experimental sound from the quartet. Lee Spielman shows diversity, toning down the shrieks, and providing a more yelling-based vocal technique, which we hear again throughout the album. "Reasons" demonstrates an obvious Nirvana influence, with a sludgy riff lacing the whole track together, and a heavy outro. Bassist, Spencer Pollard, who also provides the deep, background screams, is the sole vocalist on "Dogman," the album's closer. "Dogman" is ready for Trash Talk's live set, featuring the loud, chaotic, metal side of the band, very much like the material found on 2010's "Eyes & Nines." Bosson's work on the drums is fantastic throughout the whole song, and he gets the last minute to himself, as he adds fill after fill to end a memorable album.
Some of the songs fall into the forgettable category, mostly due to their length (a handful of songs are less than a minute long). 119 is over faster than you can think, and it leaves little to be desired. Trash Talk wears their identity proudly on 119, showing improved songwriting, and a refined sound, the product of time and hard work. The future looks bright, and Odd, for this group.