Kurt Travis – Wha Happen?
Release Date: January 24, 2012
Record Label: Doghouse
Like many of his peers, Kurt Travis has branched into acoustic territory for his solo release, opting to wow listeners through new genres rather than sticking to his tried-and-true post-hardcore. Unlike his peers, his sound is anything but expected.
The EP Wha Happen won’t be for everyone; for some, it’s just too out there. Personally, I’ve been digging it - these indie tunes have soundtracked my long night drives all week. Whether he’s throwing out nutty four-part harmonies, laughing through the middle of a track or utilizing spacey beats, Kurt pulls it off with slight eccentricities that make for an interesting listen.
It’s clear from the get-go that Travis’ recent history shows no influence when “25 New Ways To Regress” brings the weirdness full-force. Between the choir of laughing Kurts and the “dat-dat-dat” courtesy the Doug theme song, most listeners will cock their heads sideways in confusion rather than appreciating the composition’s level of detail. There’s a lot to process here, and you won’t grasp the multiple melodies and off-beat aspects until you’ve sat down with it for a bit. The following “Time To Make A Plan; Not Getting Younger” needs as much deciphering, though is equally rewarding upon proper understanding.
The testing doesn’t last the whole EP though; three of the remaining four tracks are much easier listens, starting with the title-track. “Wha Happen” is structurally the most conventional song on the record, with its single-worthy chorus serving as one of the album’s highlights. We get layers galore again on “Let’s Remember Time,” but with a great mix of orthodox structuring and vocal overlays that make for the most balanced song of the bunch. Closing with the refreshingly-naked “How Are Things” works well, giving us Kurt alone with an acoustic while sounding the best vocally of his entire career.
It’s interesting, really. Tonally, the album is the perfect for the calmest of hours, with soothing guitar work that makes for a serene listen, but the peace is cut by expertly-crafted vocal melodies that require more attention than late night listeners would normally employ. It’s this careful equilibrium that makes Wha Happen a great record, appealing to all moods and rewarding those who make the effort.
Many won’t meet Kurt at his new home in left field, while others will anxiously dig into whatever the man throws at them. Don’t be so narrow-minded that you miss this great listen.
I can't wait to listen to this. When he was doing his last tour with DGD with Mess in the band, a friend brought me backstage and he was playing solo material and some of the Elliott Smith covers mentioned above, and it was incredible.
Part of me wants to hear these songs with better recording quality but it just wouldn't seem right. The fact that some of these songs were just done on Kurt's Macbook make it very real to me. One of my favorite EPs in a long time.