Trailer Trash Tracys – Ester

January 01, 1970



Not sure who (or what) the Ester of this title is, but if
this British act has dedicated their fine debut to her (or it), a “thank you” note
is in order. This holds as well for music fans who like one foot in the
experimental world and another in familiar song territory. First, though: As
band-names go, you won’t find a better curveball. [Or, for that matter, a less appealing monicker.  – Tastemaker Ed.] There’s nothing remotely “alt” or “country” or “twangy” here, but
instead a deliciously disorienting thicket of experimental synths and distorted
beats with familiar classic pop melodies serving like breadcrumb-trails through
the fantastical processed forest.


Led by the sensuous late-night vocals of Suzanne Aztoria, a
host of contemporaries come to mind with the TTTs, from Blonde Redhead and Warpaint
to School of Seven Bells and Holly Miranda. But the band’s real progenitors
span eras, from the Jesus & Mary Chain’s bubble gum-and-heroin noir and Cocteau
Twins’ hazy textures to Kiernan Hebden’s chop shop and the Dum Dum Girls’ girl
group-meets-the-Ramones’ echoes.


The huge three-note figure that kicks off “You Wish You Were
Red” sounds like it was recorded in the Chunnel, and it slowly surges forward decorated
with chime-like glissandos and processed beats as though everything were moving
in slow motion. “Candy Girl” even reads like homage to J&MC; with its wet
snare metronome, echo-chamber bass and note-bending guitar riff, it could’ve
been a hidden-track on Candy.


This is no tribute LP, though, and there’s much more going
on here. The calliope keys in “Dies in 55” rain down like the afterglow of
fading fireworks, punctuated by processed press rolls firing off in the
background and Aztoria’s star-burst vocals. What seems like an Eddie Van Halen
show-off riff (the “solfeggio harmonics” the band employs) opens “Engelheart’s
Arizona” until it morphs into the melody and a digitally altered loop that
twists and smears all over the prominent bass and snare-shuffle through the
whole song; “Strangling Good Guys” builds similarly on a big baritone riff
enmeshed in a multi-note guitar loop, but it breaks off into syncopated barre
chords and winds up in Spector-ish girl group territory instead.


This is more adventurous fare but never forgoes its footing
in melody land – well, with the exception
of the off-putting “Rolling,” a short track that unfortunately opens the record
and sounds like a symphony warm-up with six instruments headed in different
directions. All those interesting elements though coalesce on stand-out track
“Starlatine,” where the synth notes pop like fizzy champagne bubbles amidst
distorted beats and bass, Aztoria sounding like Julie Cruise in multi-tracked harmonies
that float over like the oil sheen on a rain puddle. By the time we reach LP
closer “Turkish Heights,” where a whiff of Oriental
exotica manifests in fuzzy bass, vocal echoes and an opiated tempo where the
snare beats are altered to sound like radio static, we’ve been on a memorably
strange trip without having left behind the familiar comforting melodies of


DOWNLOAD: “Startaline,” “Turkish
Heights,” “Candy” BY JOHN

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