Some might suspect – and perhaps rightly so – that the
biggest handicap standing in the way of Trampled by Turtles’ wider recognition
might have been, well, their name. The imagery certainly didn’t help their
case; after all, who would relish the prospect of being plowed down by
oversized tortoises. On the other hand, odd monikers have always been the norm.
Who can deny the notoriety achieved by such bizarrely bannered outfits as Death
Cab for Cutie, Kings of Leon
or, gasp, Frankie Goes to Hollywood?
Be that as it may, Dead Man Winter boasts a somewhat austere
handle, but the fact that it’s helmed by Dave Simonett, one of Trampled by
Turtles’ prime movers, looms large in terms of potential. The Turtles’ last
album, Palomino, suggested a big
breakthrough was imminent, and if it didn’t quite accomplish that mission, at
least it served to elevate their place on the marquee. Bright Lights provides another emphatic step forward, but where
Simonett’s previous efforts bordered on Bluegrass, Dead Man Winter culls from
country rock, and reflects an early ‘70s Southern
California sensibility. The jangly “Nicotine,” the fiddle-fueled
“Golden” and an upbeat, optimistic “Cry for Glory” certainly stir those
sentiments, but it’s ballads like “A Long, Cold Night in Minneapolis”
and “Where in the World Have You Been?” that conjure up Laurel Canyon
sunsets and wistful reflection. Though the analogy seems obvious, it’s well
worth stating – Bright Lights certainly shines.
“Nicotine,” “A Long, Cold Night in Minneapolis,”
“Cry for Glory” LEE ZIMMERMAN