Turbo Fruits: Butter
Nashville is so hot right now. It’s having such a revival that it seems to be reclaiming it’s title of Music City. Jack White and The Black Keys live and record there. JEFF The Brotherhood are really taking off and newer acts such as Pujol are making their mark on the local scene. Then there’s Turbo Fruits, another incarnation of the city’s rock & roll heritage, climbing it’s way onto the national stage.
I guess I would put these dudes into the rock category, but it’s more than that, and their second full-length LP, Butter, is a work of contradictions. The elements of their sound have such jazzy roots that, really, the first comparison that comes to mind is Frank Zappa. They’re not quite as freakoutish (nor do they have the chops) as Zappa, but their songs are crafted with similar stylings: rock format augmented with jazzy/fusion licks and progressions. Sometimes it’s cool, sometimes it’s annoying. I haven’t made up my mind yet.
There’s rockers, such as “Gamble Tamble,” that appeal much more to me because they seem to be trying less to be too weird or too irreverent, and there’s something about the melodic excursions they venture off on within many of the tracks that seem to misfire – there’s a whiny element to them that irks me. The band is very talented and seems to understand musical theory/structure very well, but there’s a stunted, almost-great aspect to a lot of the songs; just when they have a solid groove going, it’s a hard left into jazztown with some piercing arpeggios that are at odds with the rest of the melody. And this happens a lot. That said, tracks such as “Harley Dollar Bill$,” “Gotta Get Along,” and “Ain’t the Only One Havin’ Fun” still contain the same matter, but are put together more cohesively and strike the right notes.
At the end of the day, I think it’s an interesting record and I really want to like it more because I enjoyed their first album, Echo Kid, a lot as it has a rougher-around-the-edges tone that sits better with me. But it really depends on where you fall on the rock/fusion spectrum and whether or not it’s your bag (baby!). If you’re into the Zappa kookiness and classical/jazz/rock mash-up I think you’ll like this album a lot. If not, at the very least I think you’ll find it interesting. Maybe.