Trophy Scars - Bad Luck
Record Label: None
Release Date: March 10, 2009
The past few years have been anything but easy for Trophy Scars, as reflected in the title of their latest offering, Bad Luck. The band members invested all of their personal funds into a UK tour supporting Raging Speedhorn, hoping to spread their musical influence over seas and build on the success of their highly underrated debut full length, Alphabet. Alphabets. Shortly before the start of the tour, Raging Speedhorn pulled out, citing inability to confirm dates and lack of promotion, leaving Trophy Scars stuck with the costs of plane tickets, accommodations, and new merch designs. The band announced via Myspace that they could no longer afford to continue and were taking a much needed break. In an attempt to get back on their feet and provide fans with a new release, Trophy Scars set up The Bad Luck Foundation. The idea was that fans could donate through paypal and buy rare, limited edition, and out of print merch directly from the band to help fund the recording of their new record. The response was huge, and way sooner than anyone expected, Trophy Scars were back on their feet and able to continue the writing/recording process of Bad Luck. It must have been within this struggle to survive as a band that Trophy Scars found the passion and inspiration to create their most solid release to date.
Bad Luck is the next logical progression in the evolution of Trophy Scars' sound – and then some. The band’s first three releases, Darts to the Sea,Goodnight Alchemy, and Hospital Music for the Aesthetics of Language, became staples in the post-hardcore scene for their passionate aura and the unique vocal stylings of Jerry Jones. They were hard hitting releases, yet had that eerie/bluesy/passionate vibe that’s come to define the Trophy Scars sound. In 2006 the band released their dynamic full length, Alphabet. Alphabets., combining elements of hardcore, folk, classic rock, and even hip-hop, providing a much needed face-lift for the “scene.” Being an avid Trophy Scars fan, I was extremely nervous to see how they would follow up Alphabet. Alphabets.The band made such a huge progression from their earlier releases to this full length, greatly expanding their sound yet keeping true to the core elements that defined them. Could they do it again? Could they expand their sound further without sacrificing quality and losing the core attributes which attracted their initial fan base? Fortunately, Bad Luck surpasses all expectations in terms of quality and progression, and will hopefully bring Trophy Scars the critical acclaim/recognition they deserve.
The album begins with “Bad Dreams”, a dark track that builds until the 1:35 mark, erupting into a climactic 3 minute bluesy jam-fest, reminiscent of earlier Trophy Scars. From this first track it’s clear that Trophy Scars are more focused than ever, with guitars, bass, and drums all shredding, and Jones’ vocals oozing with passion and anxiety. From this track it is also clear that Bad Luck is a concept driven record, combining concepts of death, loss, love, luck, and fate in a story about multiple characters told throughout the ten tracks. The next track, “Botanicas,” begins more cheerfully than the first, and showcases some of Jones’ new vocal stylings, including a kind of southern drawl. The song takes an unexpected turn around 1:00, slowing down the tempo only to build up to an epic jam, ending with calming strings and saxophone. “El Cowboy Rojo” is led by Trophy Scars’ storytelling abilities, and highlights Jerry’s ability to alternate between characters using different vocal techniques. “Ana Lucia” is a tale of love, loss, and revenge, and has to be one of their best tracks to date. At 2:17 the band switches seamlessly from 4/4 timing to 3/4 for a breathtakingly beautiful jam section, with all the epic-ness of a Trophy Scars breakdown but done more so with melody and musicianship than raw heaviness. The fifth and shortest track on the album (2:39), “Bad Winter,” is a piano driven track led by Jones improved singing abilities and the band’s capability to immaculately switch between the mellow and the heavy, accentuated by some gang vocals. “Geneva” continues the narrative of Bad Luck, and features some genius guitar work and even more gang vocals. “Toronto” is the newly evolved Trophy Scars at their best, breaking into a brass driven saxophone-solo around 2:52, which is just incredible, then leading into a waltz-like piano/bongo section. “Nola” begins with some heavier guitar and experimental time signatures, and with the help of some violin transitions into a southern-sounding slow jam. “Years So Much” is a nearly 7-minute-long emotional roller coaster, showcasing the guitarists’ shredding abilities and Jones’ multiple vocal techniques. The last track, “Good Luck”, finishes up the narrative of the album in a heavier fashion, jamming hard like their EPs yet with more focus and melody.
Bad Luck represents the culmination of years of hard work and hardships for Trophy Scars, perfectly channeled into an epic, genre defying and overall solid release. The guitar and bass work is immaculate – it can be calming and bluesy, hardcore and heavy, jazzy or waltzy, and above all, it's always epic, intense, and passionate. The drums hit hard, keep the tempo and help set the mood, all while making use of 4/4, 3/4, and more experimental time signatures to keep the music fresh and exciting. Jones’ vocal delivery is more dynamic than ever, making good use of multiple techniques to alternate between characters/emotions throughout the narrative of the album.
Overall TS has progressed to incorporate even more instruments and musical styles into their own unique sound, and do so very consistently. Not once throughout the album does a part or instrument sound out of place,giving the entire album a sense of wholeness. The musicianship, concept, conservative-yet-genre-breaking-experimentation, artwork, consistency, and overall passionate delivery of this album combine to make it one hell of a listening experience. Do yourself a favor and pick up this album. You won’t be disappointed.
This is the Deer Hunter but worse. The vocals are bearable until the growling starts then it just becomes a mesh of noises. The instrumentals are pretty good. The drummer really keeps it all together. The guitars are all over the place at times.