August 08, 2005

Traindodge "Torch +2"

In 2001, Norman, Oklahoma's Traindodge released a four-song EP, Torch. Little did anyone know how ironic the name would be, for shortly after its release a fire destroyed most of No Karma's warehouse, and this brilliant little record fell out of print. After years of enduring requests from a growing fanbase--as well as tapping into the critical acclaim accorded their most recent album, The Truth--Torch has been reissued, repackaged and remastered, complete with two bonus tracks from 1999.

Why Traindodge let this record languish out of print for so long is a bit of a mystery, because this is truly a great little record. Though it's rough around the edges, there's a certain magical charm in their burgeoning style. While "The Raining Room" and "Sleeper Symptom" might seem a bit by-the-book, they're not bad songs; they both show the band capable of making quality art-punk, even if they're a little too indebted to the Dischord sound. Lead singer Jason Smith's ability to temper the quiet moments with screaming and the loud parts with soft, melodic singing is quite a treat, and though the rest of the band have the capacity to get rather rowdy (especially the drummer), their restraint is quite impressive--anything more than what they give would be too much, but anything less would not be enough. In an interesting twist, the two bonus tracks, "Low Shoulder" and "Kachina" are a few years older than the songs on Torch but these tracks don't sound as by-the-book as the EP songs, clearly showing that even in their early years, Traindodge had already developed and honed down their style.

"Mountaintown Fire Station" and "Cactus Flag," however, show that Traindodge had already started to formulate some really fascinating ideas. Both are slow, dark and heavy, but both are riddled with a touch of melodicism that makes them quite compelling. Best of all is "Cactus Flag," a soft, brooding eleven-minute epic prog-punk masterpiece; it predates The Mars Volta and it's a beautifully inspired slice of rock music. It starts off slow and it doesn't hurry much, but as it builds it grows even deeper, darker and more schizophrenic, finally ending in a climax of noise and synth-heavy prog-rock weirdness. One wonders what might have happened had the world been able to hear it.

These are good days for Traindodge, and for good reason; they make original, inspired music, and it's obvious from Torch +2 that their recent round of critical acclaim was well-deserved--if anything, it's probably safe to say that it's about TIME the world caught up to Traindodge. Maybe indie-rock can be saved? Maybe Traindodge can do it? Who knows. It certainly won't be for their lack of ability...

--Joseph Kyle

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