Thomas Truax: Jetstream Sunset (Psycho Teddy Records)

Thomas Truax, the London-based musician, inventor and animator, returns to our ears with his latest album ‘Jetstream Sunset’. Born of the New York antifolk scene, Truax’s music has become synonymous with eccentricity, due to a collaboration of his distinctive vocals and erratic, homemade instruments. Now with eight solo albums under his belt, can Truax maintain momentum and originality?

‘Jetstream Sunset’ opens with the marvellously upbeat, ‘Jetstream Sunset’. A strikingly simple, yet effective demonstration of what to expect on this record. This track is a fabulous amalgamation of captivating rhythm and audibly pleasing whistles, that remind you of a good day, juxtaposed against snippets of bleak lyrical commentary.

If there were any expectations of mundane consistency within this album, these can be immediately dispelled. Each track has a style and life and soul of its own, but never feels disjointed from the overall feel. There is no better manifestation of this point than in the first three tracks. Following on the happy-go-lucky opening song, the follow up ‘I Was a Teenage Post-Punk’, is a jolt in a much heavier direction, spinning a mesmerising riff and entrancing lyrics. Then compare this to track three, ‘Driving in the Dark’ and you are dropped into a pool of Truax’s baritone vocals. Like quicksand, the smooth sound of his voice, alongside the gentle plinky-plonk of his instrumental creations, soon suck you under and leave you submerged.

The key ‘band’ members that provide a unique instrumental element are Sister Spinster, a variable speed drum machine that features spoked wheels and percussive parts and Mother Superior, which consists of a mallets on expandable sticks mounted on a motor-controlled wheel and are adjusted to hit drums at different speeds. Alongside the mechanical presence, is a physical one, in the form of Violent Femmes and The Dresden Dolls drummer, Brian Viglione. No more evident is the sheer brilliance of Viglione’s work, than in ‘Feelin’ Bad For Dracula’ with dark and serious percussive undertones, accompanied by Truax’s dreary and ominous vocals.

‘Jetstream Sunset’ is an album of artistic gems, assembling tracks that sound so different, but work so beautifully together as a collection. Truax’s magic is that his inventive mind and musical creativity allow anything put in his hands to turn to gold. Take ‘You Are My Sunshine’, a well recognised song, transformed and re-molded into something unique.

From this album, it is abundantly clear why Truax has gained success with a sizeable following, boasting a number of successful tours and owning his own label Psycho Teddy. Here is a man that has built his career on individuality and crafted yet another piece of stunning musical eccentricity. Based on this, Truax will be riding his jetstream onwards and upwards.