Good music keeps you entertained for a moment but inspirational music stays with you for a lifetime. If you consider yourself a music fanatic then I’m positive that you’ll be able to point to the records and bands who materially changed and shaped your musical palette. This series has already included several such acts, but Trophy Scars are one of two bands/artists that have had a profound, emotional effect on me.
You’ll have to wait and see who the second is, but both satisfy this next point (feel free to hazard a guess if you’d like!) If I was to say “this band doesn’t just create music, they create performance stories,” you’d look at me with a “who’s this pretentious idiot?” expression, while you wait for me to sip my Venti Soy Quadruple Shot Latte with No Foam. As grandiose as it sounds though, that’s exactly what these acts represent, but they’re able to do it with such grit and raw emotion, that rather than being over-bearing, they consume you from the inside out.
You know those films that have so much going on that you can’t really grasp the subtle nuances of the plot after one sitting because there was just too much to consume, so you have to watch it a few times before the brilliance of it really sinks in? That’s Trophy Scars all over. When I heard ‘Alphabet. Alphabets.’ for the first time, I actually didn’t like it. Objectively, Jerry Jones’ voice can be gratingly obtrusive and a number of songs have no defined structure; simply put, I found it a bit of a mess. If you’ve never heard this record and choose to give it a go, don’t be put off if you feel the same way at first. Head to the lyrics: that’s where everything starts to come together.
The lyrics soon reveal that Jerry Jones is a story teller and as a vocalist, he doesn’t aim for tonal perfection, but rather embodies the characters within his tales and channels his narrative through them. His raspy delivery isn’t suited to winning a singing contest but when it comes to pure expressionism, I can think of anyone who rivals him. Once I got under the skin of Trophy Scars and understood the mechanics of how these stories are told, it revealed a completely different side – not only to their ability – but to their music as well.
This story-telling brilliance came to a head in the follow-up to this record ‘Bad Luck’ which is a serious contender for my favourite album of all time – but here on ‘Alphabet. Alphabets.’ there are some obvious clues that Jones was on a serious trajectory. ‘Apparition. Apparitions.’ begins with the line “let me start this from end to beginning, that way the story has a happy ending,” before Jones proceeds to unravel his tale in reverse chronological order. It’s an inventive and engaging narrative style that’s given a sinister edge thanks to the broody, haunting instrumentals. Without this lyrical context though the song seems directionless and unstructured, proving just how essential the whole picture of Trophy Scars can be to the overall enjoyment of their art.
The beautifully layered piano and ambient lead lines that punctuate the record display a superb understanding of melody amidst the chaos and aggression of Jones’ vocals and add yet another layer to this richly rewarding record. Since this album, guitarist John Ferrara has grown into an accomplished producer and you can hear his ability to layer multiple elements into a full sound, but still be able to pick apart each tone, even at this early stage as a song-writer.
I could wax lyrical about Trophy Scars forever and a day and if we ever cover ‘Bad Luck’ as part of this series, I’ll need to hook up with a publishing house to see if they’ll support a version in hardback! I do hope you’ll give them a go, even though I’m fully aware that there are some serious barriers to entry with this band. I’ve been there myself, but feel considerably more fulfilled as a music listener for swilling them round in my palette and acclimatising to the taste. Remember the first time you tasted beer? Exactly. But aren’t you glad you stuck with it?
After their foray into post-hardcore with this record, Trophy Scars developed a craving for alt-rock infused with blues elements, so if ‘Alphabet. Alphabets.’ isn’t for you, have a go at their latest record ‘Holy Vacants’ which is considerably easier to get into.
This band could be your new obsession if you give them a chance.