Travis Morrison Hellfighters – All Y’all
Record Label: Barsuk Records
Release Date: August, 21, 2007
A friend much more in the know than myself, first introduced me to Dismemberment Plan three years ago. Much to his disdain, I liked the band. Yes, mixed in between my daily diet of show tunes and pop-punk (they’re one and the same, really), I could be found grooving to the art-rock styles of Travis Morrison. Once I finally became a fan, the band was completely dead. Just my luck. But someone as prolific as Morrison can’t be kept down for long, and his newest solo foray, entitled All Y’all, will bring happy memories to his loyal fans. “Proper” fans will remember times when Furbys were idolized and Levi’s were ripped only after hard work. I, however, will forever equate my first time hearing Emergency & I with the many fights I had with my roommate over him watching Dr. Phil too loudly. Those were the days.
Morrison’s former band is known for their inventive loops, jittery structures and tempos, and, of course, Morrison’s casual, disenchanted singing style. This legacy is efficiently carried on by Travis Morrison Hellfighters – OK, no more comparing. You get the idea. All Y’all begins with bluesy “I’m Not Supposed To Like You (But).” A subdued keyboard and simple drumbeat lull the listener until the tempo hastens for mere moments. A back-alley saxophone makes a sleazy appearance, and right as things pick up, the song ends. “As We Proceed” grooves along with a twitchy post-punk riff and distorted bass lines. It becomes immediately clear that All Y’all is going to be quirky in all the right ways.
“Catch Up” is deceptive in that the track hides its funky nature in the choruses. Each verse is slow, aided by spacey synths and a languid Morrison. The chorus then crashes in with tinkling percussion and piano, creating a catchy separation of moods. “East Side Of The River” is very slow and wrenching. Morrison’s imagery takes the lead and we are treated to some lyrical gems: “If there is someone that you’d rather be / Find ‘em and bring ‘em back / I’ll love ‘em just the same / You can’t put your arm around a memory / Well, you can / You can maybe do it in a complicated way.”
Travis Morrison Hellfighters seem to thoroughly enjoy messing with the listeners’ expectations. “Hawkins’ Rock” uses a comfortable drumbeat and sparse guitars to keep us quiet. As Morrison becomes more involved and the robotic guitars hit a peak, the song becomes a new wave/alt-rock swansong. If only these skinny jeans weren’t so tight… Ahem, All Y’all winds itself down with three (relatively) soft rockers. Everything culminates into the semi-creepy sounds of “Saturday Nights.” The filthy rhythm section somehow seems polished, and Morrison channels Interpol on their best day. This track is another clear sign of Morrison’s versatility (and ear for catchy pop, but you didn’t hear that from me).
All Y’all is one of the smartest records you’ll hear all year. Whether you’re looking for small life lessons or directions around D.C., it’s all here. Morrison knows tons about making (good) music and being a flawed human being. Since at least one of those things applies to every person reading this, you have no excuse. Plus, book learnin' is for squares!
Recommended If You Like: Dismemberment Plan, The Gena Rowlands Band, memory machines, Statehood, superpowers
It's not a bad record but I don't see what seperates them from the rest of the indie bands out there.
What seperates them is the fact that if not for travis morrison most of those indie bands wouldn't exist.
Great review, thanks for not mentioning Travistan also. I think the tagline that Barsuk came up with for the cd is pretty fitting too, about how if you like to party but still have a functioning brain then the cd is for you.