In the era of ProTools, American Idol, and Autotune, it’s inspiring to know that garage rock continues to inspire. That is, a group of friends gathers in a back room, a garage, a dimly lit cavern and simply plays music. Not necessarily for fame (although that would be nice) and not necessarily for girls (although they will show up eventually), but for the love of music, the cathartic release of emotion and exuberance that rock and roll has always been about.
There have been countless garage bands over the last 30 years alone; the genre started up again in the ‘80s with L.A.’s Paisley Underground and a number of left-of-the-dial bands like Dinosaur Jr. and Sonic Youth. The grunge movement carried this forward into the ‘90s along with bands like Pavement, and then it seemingly died out as hip-hop culture, nu-metal, and boy bands took over.
But the music never left. It simply went back to the garage, the clubs, the basements, where devoted fans and passionate musicians played their hearts out. And there are times where this no-bullshit approach is welcome, which is why we turn our attention to Trevor Jones and his band on this Friday.bim_ad_daily_vault_print_250
The five-piece throws a couple of curveballs into the garage rock mix, namely a) a tambourine player and b) two 12-string guitars, which are played more for fullness of sound than any sort of Byrds folk-rock revival. The music is garage rock with a healthy dose of Britpop and psychedelia; think Pavement with a combination Liam Gallagher/ Iggy Pop singing, and you’ll get the general idea.
Jones wrote the songs on his own while living in California and, like many first-time artists, doesn’t quite succeed in finding a cohesive voice, for those who care about such things. But the music is free of pretension. It’s fun, introspective, and always engaging. Witness the ‘60s throwback “It’s Getting Early” and the blues-rock stomp of “It’s Exhausting,” which sounds like a modern take on the Stooges’ classic Fun House album.
“A Familiar Way” and “Other Things” have that Oasis influence and sound like the work of journeymen rockers, not a kid just starting out in the business (as of this writing, the band has played about 60 shows and is starting work on the second album, which will reportedly be more of a group effort). “Show Yourself” is a 10 minute slow burner, trading undersung psychedelic verses with liquid guitar solos and retaining a hypnotic power that proves Jones’ depth.
“Superslow” is a lesser effort along the same lines as “Show Yourself;” on another album, it would provide a good set piece, but no garage rock album needs two 10 minute guitar epics. Only Led Zeppelin could get away with that. “Reality’s Mine” and “Dig This!” are fine, if unremarkable, and “Sneak” is notable only for the Lou Reed/Iggy Pop-esque spoken vocals. A couple of points deducted for whoever mixed the album and decided to wash out Jones’ voice with echo, especially on “A Familiar Way,” where the cavernous sound on his words undercuts the personal nature of the lyrics.
But these are minor quibbles. Download or stream the highlights and, if you like what you hear, get the rest of the album. There Was Lightning is the work of a nascent songwriter (and a band) who deserves to go places, especially in a fabricated musical landscape, and it’s definitely worth exploring for the garage rocker in you.
FROM BEACH TO GARAGE: Trevor and The Joneses Will Blow Your Brains Out
Max Plenke, Las Vegas Citylife 1/31/13
Praise Jesus 12-String Christ for the fury and temerity of nasty, grimy, paisley-printed rock ’n’ roll. The kind of garage rock that Trevor and The Joneses play unabashedly, unpoetically, almost rudely if it weren’t so goddamn inspiring, the kind of rock ’n’ roll that makes you feel jacked up, not offended on the sonic level, when you hear 24 guitar strings played simultaneously.
And what’s more, it has a tambourine. A goddamn tambourine. Played by a kid who looks like a character in a ’90s film about the Lower East Side of Manhattan, who joined the band to play nothing but tambourine and in turn plays the living shit out of it. I could write this entire page about him alone. But that would miss the point: Trevor and The Joneses has released an album. And it’s awesome.
There Was Lightning, the first full-length by Trevor and The Joneses — Trevor Jones, guitar/vox; Chris Montijo, drums; Dale Gilbert, bass; Joe Lawless, guitar; Kendall Franklin Jr., tambourine — comes almost a year after the band formed. Since then, Jones estimates the act has played about 50 shows, sometimes performing three times in a weekend, indiscriminately tackling everything with a stage and a microphone. “We’ve said no to nothing,” Jones says. “I love playing music. If I could do it every night I would, but playing in the same city makes it weird. There are all kinds of nooks and crannies all over the place. [Some people] only go to their bar. Some people think it’s weird, but we want to reach everyone we can.”
And they filled one of those crannies on a recent Saturday night, for free, to few more than friends, in the lo-fi cavern of Motor City Cafe. The titular member and nearly sole writer of all things Joneses, looking less like an exuberant ringleader and more like a GameStop employee, played from the darkest, only unlit corner of the stage, barely more than a fuzzy silhouette, hardly more a part of the overall stage presence than the glare of an overhead lamp. But by the second, maybe third, song, it’s hard to give a flying fuck about how Jones looks onstage. Everything coming off of his fingers sounds like Andre the Giant and a triceratops beating the hell out of each other, thundering and vicious and Ritalin-focused wee-dlyee-dlyee-wee-dees, precision-cut chaos from a harbinger of squeal.
The live show, decidedly garage rock aurally, doesn’t match the more involved, introspective psychedelic sound Jones went for on There Was Lightning. “The album still represents our sound,” Jones says. “But I wrote all those songs at the beach while I was living in California … the next [album] will be more of a group effort in writing the songs.” Jones swings for fences in different eras and genres, rattling off bands and mostly getting it right: Oasis, Brian Jonestown Massacre, Nada Surf, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Louis XIV. “I’ve been a straight-up rock fan my whole life,” Jones says. “It so happens the songs I write lend themselves to that. I have music that’s less fun, so we don’t do those songs live. This stuff is happier. I wanted to go for a more positive message.”
Lightning is a testament to its own genre, a commentary as much as a proclamation. The album-opening “Dig This!” clack-cracks its way into a finger-scorching guitar intro, followed quickly by a shaming of pop music (“How did it come to this?/If that’s what passes for music then dig this!”), followed again by more shredding.
“’Superslow’ is probably the most fun to listen to and play, because it’s 10 minutes long, and because it’s crazy, and I’ve always wanted to make a song like that,” he says, talking about his favorite songs on the record. “Track 3 [“A Familiar Way”] might be the best one. It’s more … revealing about me, talking about personal things. The second verse talks about wanting to leave with nowhere to go, leave and come back with nothing to show. But in the last two minutes, the guy’s found his way.”
As the Jan. 26 Motor City show wears on, the first and only non-musical rock ’n’ roll thing of the night happens: A girl walks up to the stage and hangs a pair of panties on Lawless’ microphone. It doesn’t look like it belongs in front of the nearly stoic, seldom bantering musicians ripping the shit out of their instruments. But that doesn’t matter. What matters is what the band’s here for, tonight, at this eastside hole in the wall: to present an audience with a powerful piece of art. During a lull at the beginning, Jones says the only thing that matters at this moment. “We’re Trevor and The Joneses. And we just made a record.”
Goddamn right you did.
Jarret Keene, Vegas Seven Magazine, 1/31/13
Trevor and the Joneses, There Was Lightning (Self-released)
Most bands working in the psychedelic tradition sound alike, as if cribbing the same records. However, this Vegas group sonically acknowledges owning a Flaming Lips disc. In opener “Dig This,” frontman Trevor Jones boasts about being odd rocker out: If that’s what passes for music/Well, then dig this. Recorded at Brian Garth’s now-defunct Chrome Werewolf studio, Lightning strikes hard, fast, delivering 10 loose, melodic tracks. “Grooving at the Speed of Light” will reaffirm your love of music. ★★★★
Ashley Gates, Vegas Seven Magazine 3/1/13
A group of boyish faces took the stage, but their performance proved them to be seasoned musicians, not amateurs. They’re a self-described garage band, but that label doesn’t do the savvy quintet justice. Trevor and the Joneses are an up-and-coming psychedelic rock group with a knack for grunge-laden guitar chords and explosive punk beats. Trevor’s modest demeanor juxtaposed his bold and pronounced vocals. “I wanna sneak ya around, in and out of sleazy bars downtown ... crawl inside your brain and turn it inside, inside out,” are some lyrics to “Sneak,” a song that got the crowd going. Other treasures included “Grooving at the Speed of Light,” a repetitive chant, and their last song, “Superslow,” a longer climactic piece. Although their set was short, lasting about 35 minutes, their performance didn’t seem rushed. Trevor writes the songs, but each member of the five-man band contributes to their elemental sound. The songs played were off their debut album, There Was Lightning. Although the Vegas natives formed the band just more than a year ago, the group already has the potential to be the next wave to hit the shores of obscure and respected indie rockers. Catch them again March 10, when they open for the Warlocks at Backstage Bar & Billiards on 601 Fremont Street. ★★★★