By Conner Jensen
Scottish band Trashcan Sinatra’s are an indie-punk band with an alternative flair. They were formed back in 1986 and are well known for their harmonies and the pop style that they continually incorporate into their music. Originally a cover band derived from a high school class, the band was formed of four members, two of which were replaced in 1987, keeping Frank Reader on vocals and Davy Hughes on Bass. Hughes and Readers’ original roles in the band are actually the reverse of what they are currently, and now they are accompanied by Paul Livingston on guitar, John Douglas on guitar, and Stephen Douglas on drums. The group has released five albums since their genesis, and last week they released their sixth album Wild Pendulum.
The album begins with “Let Me Inside,” which is introduced by slightly ominous-yet-calming combinations of strings before the song begins to further develop. Sound effects introduce the first verse, which starts with the drums as the melody begins to become a full quintet of sound by the chorus. The song maintains an ominous yet uplifting vibe which could quite possibly become a predominant mood. As this song drifts out, “Best Days on Earth” begins, which has an alternative pop sound, and starts with the verse right from the start. The vocals are soothing and the melody is exceptionally calming, thus furthering the idea that the calming and uplifting vibe is going to be a reoccurring mood throughout this work. The song closes with the harmonizing that the band is well known for, clearly inspired by classic pop music, before fading gently into the next song. “Ain’t That Something” picks up the pace a little bit with a faster drum beat and the keys playing at a matching tempo. This song really embraces the pop genre while maintaining the group’s own flair, combining ‘70s style sound with alternative rock. This song serves as a nice change of pace for the listener, as the work starts out at a very slow tempo. Like most of the songs thus far, they slowly fade out while still maintaining the predominant sound of the melody.
“Autumn” begins with a bluesy disco melody of strings, keys and percussion, creating a more reflective mood going into the song. This song focuses more on the alternative rock side of their style, with a sound that is reminiscent of many Brit-Rock bands, like The Neighbourhood. The lyrics and the melody blend together into a song that adds an edge of darkness to the work that hasn’t been prominent until this song. As the song closes, the tempo slows as the strings become the dominant sound and harps play out the last five seconds before completely fading. On “I Want to Capture Your Heart,” the strings return to take on a more elegant sound, which sets the bar for the rest of the instruments. This is one of the slowest songs thus far and is a nice contrast to the rest of the work, because nothing that has played yet is quite like this song. It’s calming, slow and elegant, which is a real contrast to the title. The song closes out with harmonizing and a charming whistle before the elegant big band sound begins to fade. “All Night” picks the pace back up, returning to the poppy sound that was predominant in the beginning. The use of bells in the percussion adds a light air to the song, but as the chorus begins the melody becomes more elaborate, including some strange-yet-satisfying sound effects being applied to the guitar. Horns also come into play, really making for a well-rounded and fun melody that really makes the listener imagine dancing all night.
“The Neighbor’s Place” begins with the slow strumming of a guitar accompanied with some mild keyboard playing. This reinforces the reflective mood that had been established earlier on. This song is another slower one, and the folk-pop style that the band blends into this melody is exquisite. Much like the rest of this album, this song calms the listener and keeps them ready for the next song to switch on as the current one fades. “The Family Way” begins with a more electronic vibe, with unique rewinding sound effects and electric keyboard sounds being heavily incorporated into the mildly-paced melody. This song has a coastal vibe to it, and melody will have you imagining waves as you get lost in the short yet satisfying song. “I’m Not the Fella” begins with scales on the piano, running up and down the keys before the verse began. The tempo has slowed yet again, as the singer sings of rejection, claiming he’s “not the fella for her.” This serves as a showcase for the singer’s range as well as song of the musical talent of the group, incorporating instruments that haven’t been heard yet in the work. This piece really enforces a lot of the conflicting moods throughout this piece, and helps to clarify some of the feelings that have been expressed thus far.
The song ends how it started, symbolic of coming full circle, then fades into “What’s Inside the Box.” This song follows in the footsteps of the previous song, slowing down the tempo again. The combination of horns and sound effects make for a fully satisfying song that you don’t tire from, even though you’ve been listening to slow-paced songs for most of the work. This song touches on the distance that the singer has been feeling with a significant other, which seems to be the cause of most of these conflicting feelings that have been expressed throughout. With harmonies and a gradual decrease in volume, the song fades into “Waves (Sweep Away My Melancholy).” It begins with some strange yet intriguing sound effects mixed with the guitar and keyboards, which quickly progress into the fully developed mystery. The tempo has picked up slightly, yet the sound is still relatively slow and calming like most of the work. The song is catchy, easy to listen to, and has you unwinding while tapping your feet along. In the final song, “I See The Moon,” the singer fully reflects on his experiences with this woman to close out the work. The primary sound is just the strumming of a guitar as the work fades into silence. This song ties together the work into an elegant alternative rock work that is unlike anything listeners have experienced.
Trashcan Sinatra’s have been making music for some time, yet their work still continues to be excellent. This work is one you could easily leave on repeat all day. The soothing melodies and the variation in style and tempo from song to song make it interesting and easy to lose yourself in.