Terry Gross: Soft Opening (Thrill Jockey, 2021)

January 29, 2021 at 6:17 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Terry Gross: Soft Opening

The title of the first album by the newest project of Trans Am’s Phil Manley is totally misleading. This one freely storms out the gate, playing Neu!-style rhythms and riffs with the energy of a garage-punk band. The drummer breaks up the rhythms a bit so it doesn’t get too samey, and then it totally breaks down and heads into a group chant for a bit. Once they steer back onto another course, they sound more determined and charged than ever. “Worm Gear” does more Motorik-style trancing out, but feels more sideways and wobbly. Eventually the riffs get a bit more metal, and there’s some epic vocals that blast out at one point, as the band sludges toward the end, yet still keeping their composure. “Specificity (Or What Have You)” is shorter and more anthemic, starting with spirited verses before unleashing some dazzling guitar pyrotechnics. Just a joyous quest all around.

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