Why are you reviewing an album by an American based in London?
A good question, dear reader and the answer is that Thomas Truax the wacky, out there musical opinion divider recently graced the stage of Preston’s Mad Ferret.
Having missed that gig, we thought we would deliver the consolation prize a review of his album Monthly Journal.
A concept album of sorts, it is the result of his decision to write record and release one song every month, thus documenting a year.
As our writer Josh Maun found out listening to it, conventional is a word very much absent from Truax’s thoughts.
“January Egg Race Dream”, begins the album in a dark sinister way, representing the cold feeling of a winter January, using deep lyrics to aid the listeners imagery of the “sleepy frozen town”. This delivery of the lyrics feels more like an audiobook set to music rather giving any kind of musical excitement.
The autobiographical account of the egg race, and waking up from his dream prematurely, provides a metaphor for the feelings and anticipation the writer has for the upcoming year, confirming any fears/hopes you have that this is going to be a bloody weird album.
The second track on the album is “February What Ya Doin To Me”, lifting the tone of the album with the increase in tempo, reflecting the feeling of the year, overcoming the winter blues and beginning to get back into the daily rhythm.
The song itself sounds like an adult version of a Wiggles song. It does also contain some smile raising lyrics such as: “you can wash and you can scrub until you turn bright red but you’ll still be dirty in the head”.
Tracks for March and April pay homage to the cultural references of “March Winds” and “April Showers”. The former, has a good build to it with more of a light breezy feel than a stiff gale, slowing down towards the end and incorporating a higher pitched piano amongst some deeper strings and guitar to give a swirling wind feel.
The latter starts off with a drumbeat and a splash symbol, possibly representing the splashing of the precipitation mentioned in the title. The tone of this track is much deeper possibly highlighting that April is springtime yet it has a depressing feel to it due to the constant rain in UK, paying reference to this the song ironically pleads “forget your flowers just bring your showers and let your rain disguise our tears”.
“Free as a Firefly in May” has a much better feel again with the higher tempo, reflecting the increase in happiness on a “warm may night”. Over layered sounds of which sound like seagulls and waves lapping at the shore help to give the summery feeling. Documenting the tapping of bottles and shaking of shells by including the sounds of them in the music is an interesting addition to the track, which is definitely one of the better, sounding efforts.
The music through “Lost on the Moon in June” sounds like someone tinkering with a Casio keyboard from about 1986, with the synthetic backing drum loop repeating throughout and then the simplistic synthesiser playing the main part. It is all rather space age and has a feel of old Bowie’s Life on Mars.
“Gold Star for Miss July” is another low tempo tune but the acoustic, less out there contrived feel helps it feel fresh.
The lyrics do sometimes feel to struggle at times with such as “the green and tidy lawn that you puked on at dawn”.
He also mentions “give ourselves another gold star for making it halfway through another year.” To be honest you’ll need something stronger than a gold star if you have listened to the first six tracks of this album in one go, it is outrageously bizarre.
“Midnight in August”. There is hillbilly, there is sci-fi, there is vox. It’s exhilarating hearing all the cogs working together but it is also exhausting to be eight tracks in and have your mind messed with track by track.
September and October aka “Grandmother’s Advice” and “Everything’s gone Halloween.”
The first of the two tracks has an Asian/Bollywood style and refers to the advice of his grandmother not to hold a wedding in September. Not to criticise but of all the shit going down in the world, wedding talk feels a bit of an irrelevant one.
The second of the two has a beat similar to that of the old Halloween classic Monster Mash and the vocals revert to the same style as January, speaking over the music in audiobook style again. This track also has a flamenco feel to it as well due to the percussion used and the acoustic guitar that appears at one point. More of jokey and uplifting, it is a refreshing boost.
Penultimate track “November in Berlin” comes not a moment too soon, by this point you will either be waving a crescendo of originality and exhilaration or the sheer madness, inconsistency and very distinctive vocal performance will have driven you up the wall.
The intro to this track feel like the music you’d expect to be over the opening credits of a Tomb Raider game. It is one of the longest tracks compiled here and relies on accordion and heavy drum beats.
This track entitled “Family and Friends” pays homage to the tradition of a Christmassy feeling that is usually seen as a time for meeting friends and family.
However it goes much darker in the mid section, most probably edging fun at the people who are enjoying the festivities and embracing a materialistic culture. It also mentions his family’s interactions with his uncle “rheumatism” being mentioned and also ridiculing the “meeting friends online”.
Depending upon your musical view this is either a masterpiece of insane imagination or a shambolic selection of ramblings. In all honesty it is probably a mixture of both. Feel free to decide for yourself.
You can get the album from Truax’s official website.