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Trouble Books

The United Colors of Trouble Books

[Bark and Hiss; 2008]

By ; October 13, 2008 

Purchase at: Insound (Vinyl) | Amazon (MP3 & CD) | iTunes | MOG

2007 and 2008 have become flagship years for a resurgence of lo-fi music in the state of Ohio, with the scene producing such notable noise-rock acts as Times New Viking, Pink Reason, and Psychedelic Horseshit. Amongst all of that abrasive hubbub, a small, unexpected thing came out of a region of the state not exactly known for peace and quiet to indie circles.

Unlike their fellow statesmen, Akron girlfriend-and-boyfriend pair Trouble Brooks opted on their fourth self-released album, The United Colors of Trouble Brooks, to turn down the volume. This was a wise choice, flying in the face of the often incorrect assumption that lo-fi equals noisefest. The result could not be more pleasing.

The album, opening with the crackle of tape hiss and flames from a fireplace, is a warm, soothing affair. The softness of the sounds to the ears is akin to wrapping yourself up in your favorite blanket. These sounds combined with the lucid imagery of the lyrics, come together like a wonderful kaleidoscope – not so much different from the colors of the hand-printed cover art.

And like a real kaleidoscope, these songs are fragile. The vocal deliveries are timid and honest, like those of Sufjan Stevens or Kimya Dawson, but the lyrics are not folky or childish. Meanwhile, melodies and instrumental layers weave whimsically in and out, but the balance is perfected and does not come off as overly orchestrated. If there were too much or too little, the songs would have fallen apart. Instead, the different timbres illustrate the scenes of the stories within the songs.

In fact, listeners can do it themselves: included in the LP+CD-R package (which can be bought directly from the band via Paypal here for only $11) is a wonderful booklet, containing the lyrics and black-and-white pictures, essentially a coloring book. It’s the perfect companion for when you stretch out on the carpet and drift along to the recording. And if you fall asleep, it’s alright; the band intended it that way.


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