Tuesday, December 28, 2010

December 28: Truckee Brothers, "Gritty Pretty"

Artist: Truckee Brothers
Song: "Gritty Pretty"
Album: Double Happiness
Year: 2007

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While there are many aspects of the music industry that make very little sense, perhaps the most inexplicable is the way in which some bands are vaulted to commercial success by record labels, while others are not given the same backing.  Within a modern sense, the only logic that one can deduce is that the more original, emotional, and truly talented that a band is, the less likely it is that they will gain such support.  The fact that "real" talent has become a "second place" to image is in a nut-shell the biggest problem plaguing the music industry today, but thankfully there are a number of bands that remain to prove the fact that this "real" talent is still alive and well.  Bringing some of the most refreshing and powerful pure rock and roll of the last decade, few bands in the modern music scene packed a similar punch and beauty than one was able to experience in the short-lived band, the Truckee Brothers.  Their 2007 release, Double Happiness, is just that, a record that packs far more than twice the impact and creativity than one can find anywhere else, and the album still knows few rivals in the years that have passed since its release.  Working all across the musical spectrum, the record boasts a wide-range of sounds and styles, and this is a testament to the exceptional level of talent within the band members.  While their more mellow and reflective songs are not to be missed, one can experience the true "rock majesty" that is the music of the Truckee Brothers in their 2007 song, "Gritty Pretty."

Within the opening of "Gritty Pretty," one can quickly hear many of the bands' influences, as the song wastes no time setting the tone, with echoes of bands like The Who and The Stooges becoming instantly apparent.  It is this ever-present edge that in many ways defines the band, as they perfectly balance the attitude of the punk rock scene with the sonic beauty of the hard rock era.  This unique musical assault is led by the duo of Cady (Christopher Hoffee) and Peat (Patrick Dennis), and the way in which their guitars interlock defines everything that makes rock music so enjoyable.  Combined with the brilliant rhythm section of bassist Greg Friedman and drummer Matt Lynott, the sound that the quartet produce is nothing short of mesmerizing, as well as a refreshing return to the roots of rock and roll which seem to have been forgotten by a majority of the modern music industry.  All of "Gritty Pretty" feels as if it is riding the edge of chaos, and it is this energy and mood that push the song far beyond anything else recorded at the time.  This urgency never relents even for a moment, and one can easily feel and understand the impact that such a song would have had in a life environment, as it is without question as powerful and catchy a rock song as has ever been written.  Yet much in the spirit of punk rock, the song is completely to the point and void of filler, keeping this compact and not "overstaying" its welcome.  This clearly conscious choice is the final piece that solidifies the exceptional talents and performance that one finds on "Gritty Pretty."

Along with sharing duties on guitar, the team of Cady and Peat also trade off vocals throughout the song, and few pairings can boast as captivating a sound as one can experience on "Gritty Pretty."  With neither vocalist possessing what one would consider a "classic" sound, it is their uniquely appealing voices and stunning harmonies that make their sound even more distinctive.  The way in which the tenor sounds from Peat fuse together with the more baritone-based voice of Cady is absolutely exceptional, and it gives the song even greater depth, as their voices move both together and apart during various parts of the song.  This ability to craft a complex vocal sound is in many ways one of the most definitive aspects of the music of the Truckee Brothers, and their purposeful concentration on this area along with the more traditional musical arrangements serves as proof to their superior musical knowledge and ability.  It is also within the strict cadence with which they sing that the song gains complexity, as their shared vocals add a secondary rhythm to "Gritty Pretty."  There is also an attitude and swagger that runs underneath the entire vocal performance, and it is this aspect that makes the song nothing short of a classic, grabbing the listener from the first line and not releasing the grip until the song ends.  Such musical mastery is a more rare and rare occurrence as the decades pass, and this is perhaps the final piece of evidence that one needs to fully understand why the Truckee Brothers stand so far above their peers.

Throughout all of Double Happiness, it becomes abundantly clear that the level of creativity in this band was far beyond that of nearly any other act recording at the time.  Whether it is in the multiple rhythmic patterns, the soaring guitar chords, or the absolutely phenomenal vocal harmonies, all of "Gritty Pretty" serves as a reminder that "real" talent and music will always triumph over more manufactured sounds, and the song remains a power, refreshing statement that such musical integrity has not been lost.  However, within the music of the Truckee Brothers, one can also clearly hear a unique musical voice, as in many ways, their songs work against the more traditional musical norms, with a large emphasis falling on the choruses, making them just as important to the overall song as the verses.  In many ways, there is so much going on throughout songs like "Gritty Pretty" that it requires multiple listenings to fully understand and appreciate the entire work, and the fact that this occurs simultaneously with such strong ties to punk rock makes it even more unique a musical experience.  The energy never relents even for a moment, and it seems at times as if the band is actually trying to derail the song, giving it a mood that truly knows no rival.  From the heavy, yet unquestionably melodic guitar passages to the high-octane rhythm section to the absolutely brilliant vocal work, there is literally nothing from the past decade of recorded music that can stand as an equal to the Truckee Brothers and their 2007 song, "Gritty Pretty."

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