Artist: Tourist Trap
Album / Label: Flawless / Unsigned
Rating: 7 / 10
Columbus rockers Tourist Trap started as any humble band does. You start out as a few friends, put out some ads to fill out the lineup, play your first show at a festival in your basement…. Wait, what?
Surely, you’ve heard of the Gnarbecue Fest, right? What is now a massive event showcasing dozens of bands and art vendors, began as the band wanting to play their first show. The event just had its fifth edition, and has morphed into a two-day event featuring over two dozen of Ohio’s best acts. Their rise to fame is also marked by winning CD102.5’s Local Artist Showcase last year. The quartet beat out local powerhouses Miller and the Hunks and Lackluster to win the opportunity to open for Franz Ferdinand at CD102.5 Day 2018.
The band is led by guitarist and vocalist Roberto Bryer, and features Zach Barnes on bass, Alex Adams on guitar, and Matt Frank on percussion. Despite their growing popularity, the band has stayed true to their roots while being humble throughout the process. They have now released their first LP, Flawless. It was recorded at Mooney Recordings in Columbus, OH.
The album opens up The Hurricane, a track with hooks that are sure to catch you, while forcing you to focus on them. The song starts out fun and airy, before speeding up the tempo almost to the point where you could call it surf punk. For what it’s worth, the band actually defines their sound as “Rock ‘n’ Roll Porch Punk.”
The title track (and first single) Flawless is next, and it brings things back a few steps from the opener. While not overwhelming, it is definitely a catchy, up-beat number that could be featured on any summer playlist. Bryer’s unique voice goes from timid singing to poignant snarls, while Frank lays down a precise attack on his kit.
Years starts with a foot tapping bass-line from Barnes and features a more somber lyrical tone. There’s a fuzzy little saxophone interlude that feeds right into The After Party, in which Bryer announces, “I’m searching for a friend to attend an after party, after the end of the world.” Lyrically clever, the song features the best guitar work between Bryer and Adams, and I can imagine that any time this song is played live, people start dancing.
Reality Check has a back-and-forth tempo to it, featuring a lot of sound between the four musicians. All of them are skilled in their craft, and it gives the song a little more of a frantic feel to it than you might initially think. Bittersweet has an airy feel to it, with guitars creeping up behind and around you. The juxtaposition of these two songs just goes to show how much the band has matured since their debut EP dropped in 2018.
If I had to define their sound at this point, I would put them squarely between Surfer Blood, Vampire Weekend, and Tokyo Police Club. The X-factor is Bryer’s unique voice.
Cellophane again drives the band in a few different directions, and if you only listened to the song once you might miss a few of the soaring guitars and bouncing drums. I would almost call it chaotic if it weren’t so damn catchy.
There’s another ethereal interlude before the album’s final track, Hourglass. After my second listen through the record, I still want to say that this is my favorite track, I just cannot tell you why. The drums punch you, all while the guitars skip and prance through your eardrums. It’s just a fun song that perfectly caps off an album full of bouncy summer grooves.
The entire album screams “summer” at you, but I don’t believe that was the band’s intention. Upon listening to it for the first time, there was a lot of fuzz to wade through. Giving it a second glance, I found a lot of good lyrical work and interwoven guitars. What the band has managed to do is capture the perfect sound to be featured on any alternative rock station across the world.
With that in mind, the future for these fellows is definitely bright. They are again poised to play with some bigger national acts (’68, Screaming Females, Zach Deputy) later this month at Bewilderfest, August 23-24 in Cincinnati.
After listening to Flawless, I’m pretty sure the group will be headlining their own bigger shows fairly soon.
- The Hurricane
- Interlude I
- The After-Party
- Reality Check
- Interlude II
Tourist Trap – Hourglass