Back in April Todd Partridge told me that the new King of the Tramps CD was coming along beautifully and that he couldn't wait for me to hear it. I have to admit, upon hearing that I began to tingle with excitement. At this stage in my life, it generally takes a lot to get me tingling.
|Wicked Mountain: 2013 Brolester Records. Artwork by Tom Bolan|
Cover photo by Roger Feldhans
Wicked Mountain is the 2nd release for the Tramps. It follows Good People, which was released in 2011. Good People is a great album in it's own right, and I was curious to see if Todd's hype was justified or if it was self-serving hyperbole ahead of the typical sophomore curse. I knew that there was something different about this band, but I couldn't put my finger on it... They have a spark that others do not... and while it's more of an aura than an instantaneous flash, it's definitely there. It could be the way the band conducts itself, which is extremely commendable. While they aren't constantly in your face, they offer enough web presence to keep themselves interesting, and they cruise the social networks with a flair of modesty that is rare in the central Iowa music scene. Not only have the Tramps solidified their place among the major players in the state, but they do so with an uncanny charm that captures a wide audience. This audience treats these Kings as royalty, and one might be hard pressed to find an Iowa band that is more respected by it's fan base than the Tramps are.
The fan base, like everything else the Tramps are associated with is justified. Nobody else is creating the sound that the Tramps are, and with Wicked Mountain, the Tramps have outdone themselves. So much for the sophomore curse. It doesn't exist on Wicked Mountain, and to be perfectly honest, I suspected as much. What you do get is Iowa roots rock performed Tramp style, which is the purest definition available. It's the cross street where The Band meets the Rolling Stones meets Iowa BBQ picnic. What's perfect about this surprisingly natural concoction is that not one of these flavors outshine the other. In other words, your ears hear the obvious Band and Stones influence but it's the Tramps own signature sound that stamps itself above the others. The songwriting on Wicked Mountain is superb, the musicianship is outstanding, and general flow of the record is testament to the band's attention to detail. To mention one song as more of a standout than another would be frivolous, because it's literally impossible for me to nail down a favorite. the first time I listened to the album, the song "Leaves of Grass" stepped up above the others as my personal favorite, but the next time it was "Kiss My Ass." Then it was "Death's Door" and then "Fresh Green Light of Day." And of course the title track to the album ranks right up there also.
|KOTT will play the Gas Lamp in Des Moines on June 8. Peace, Love and Stuff to open.|
(Original photo by Roger Feldhans)
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