Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Reviews:: Two Hours Traffic - Little Jabs

If I were a lazy man, this review would be very easy. I would just take my recent post proclaiming Two Hours Traffics' Stuck For The Summer as my song of the summer, I would then multiply that by 10 and make Little Jabs my album of the summer. But of course that would be too easy, and it would deprive you of the herohill-scented banter you crave, so of course we'll give it the full review treatment. That said, this is indeed my album of the summer, but it may also turn out to be my album of the year as I enjoy it as much as anything I've heard thus far.

Oh I know that's high praise indeed coming from a musical luminary such as myself, but it's warranted. The boys from PEI have taken the formula for success that they discovered last year on their excellent EP Isolator, and built on it. If you read my review of Isolator, you no doubt remember me telling you that Two Hours Traffic was formed at UPEI by a group of former chemistry students. Even if you don't remember that, I suppose I just told you. You might also recall that Two Hours Traffic is produced by herohill's favorite composer of Halifax-themed concept albums, Joel Plaskett. I don't think Joel has done a ton of producing in the past, normally leaving that to former Thrush Hermit bandmate Ian McGettigan, but he must have some idea what he's doing as Little Jabs sounds great.

This album features 3 songs that were on the EP: Stuck For The Summer, Jezebel, and Heatseeker. This is fine by me as they are 3 excellent songs and probably my favorites from the EP. Let's revisit what I had to say about them:

The pleasant guitar jangle and sing-along chorus of Stuck For The Summer make it plenty addictive and a perfect song for the, uhh, summer. Jezebel sounds like uptempo alt.country with it's old-time revival organ and if it doesn't also have you singing along, you might need a pulse check. Heatseeker slows things down on the country tip and kicks off with the lyric "Take me for a ride/I hear you've got a Honda with some fire on the side/That's just fine". I'll say it's fine! Great lyric, I couldn't not like the song after that.

Besides the previous bit of genius, I think it speaks to the quality of those songs that I didn't mind hearing them again at all. In fact I was excited when they came on. What's more, I think it speaks to the quality of the new songs that they mesh so well with the carryovers. Nighthawks has the same sort of uptempo guitar strumming and chord changes as Stuck For The Summer, but it has a catchy "Oooo-Ooooo-Oooooo-oooo-oooo-ooooooooo" (another reason to hear the album: to see if I described that even remotely close) harmony that helps it stand out. The girls talking at the end of the song might be an example of Joel's production influence, as he sometimes adds sound effects or vocal clips into his songs. But then again two girls might've just wandered into the vocal booth and started talking, who knows.

Heroes Of The Sidewalk is awesome. It includes the line "Fill our bags up with booty, they won't know what to think about us cutie, we'll be the heroes of the sidewalks in our town", which makes it the best song about Trick or Treating that I've ever heard. (Note: this song might not be about trick or treating at all, but to me it always will be). I don't know if it's accurate to describe this song as alt.country really, but the band has a knack for mixing acoustic and electric guitars to a very pleasing effect.

I'm definitely torn between the aforementioned Heroes of The Sidewalk and the excellent Backseat Sweetheart as to which is my favorite of the "new" songs. Backseat Sweetheart has some synthy keyboard sounds on the chorus which makes it very catchy, and it also has a cowbell breakdown(!), which makes it hard to resist. I think this song reminds me the most of the Plaskett Emergency, as the drums and even the vocals have a staccato quality that Joel sometimes uses on his uptempo rockers. A great bassline acts as the backbone for Whenever We Finish, an ode to a wandering lover who always expects to be taken back in. Another great hook on this song, the album is full of them from start to finish.

Speaking of catchy hooks, Stolen Earrings has that in spades - "You should wear, that pair of earrings that you stole, you've got a fiery soul, and everyone should know". I can't do it justice here, and it sounds odd to read, but listen to it once and you'll find yourself singing about stolen earrings. Who knows where the idea for this song came from, but it works. The slow-burning Arms Akimbo could be a winner just on the strength of it's excellent title, but it has some breakbeatish drums and keyboard licks that make it addictive, even at 5 minutes plus.

Hey, do you think perhaps I enjoy this album? I do indeed. I don't even need my Maritime-centric reviewer pants for this one, it's more than good enough to stand on it's own musical merit. It fact, Little Jabs is a perfect example of what an album should be in 2007, it is 10 fantastic songs with no filler. I mean how many major label acts are putting out quality albums from start to finish these days? But considering you're here on the hill, you already know the answer to that. Anyway, off that soapbox and onto another, this album is perfect for the summer and just all around great. I hope it gets the attention it deserves. I encourage you to buy it, request it, tell people about it, or perhaps paint a giant mural of the band on the front of your house, whatever feels right for you. As for me, if Two Hours Traffic keeps putting out music like this, I'll keeping spreading the THT gospel here on the hill.

mp3:: Two Hours Traffic - Stuck For The Summer

Posted at 8:00 AM by naedoo :: 0 comments

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