The New Trust | Keep Dreaming (Discos Huelga)

keepdreaming 75Their songs are as driven and propulsive as hardcore punk as they are indie cool.


The challenge to a music fanatic with this modern music industry is no longer finding talented artists who can produce quality art, it’s finding the quality art that has already been produced by talented artists that the modern music industry no longer looks for. Some bands have a surplus of these individuals. The Velvet Teen is one such band; The New Trust is an ongoing testament to this. That band is fronted by Josh Staples, who plays bass in The Velvet Teen and in the touring incarnation of The Jealous Sound. He also handles background vocal duties in both, providing high harmonies and the occasional dramatic, yet on-key yell. His tenor is unique, high without being nasally or reedy. His vocal phrasing is literate, and might remind a few listeners of Morrissey sans the accent. This is a nice contrast given the pointed and poignant lyrics he vocalizes.

The bigger contrast in The New Trust lies in the music. As a three-piece band—consisting of Staples on bass and vocals, Sara Sanger on guitar and vocals, and Julia Lancer on drums—each member has a heavy load to carry in order to fill out the sound. Keep Dreaming is their second album without a second guitarist, the first being the stellar Get Vulnerable. Their growth as a unit shines all the more on Keep Dreaming, largely because The New Trust embraces melody with a vengeance. Their songs are as driven and propulsive as hardcore punk as they are indie cool, but often brutally heavy in tone and mood, without being brainless or over-complicated. They manage to find ways to showcase their individual gifts and make the songs exciting listening experiences when you wouldn’t expect as much at the onset. They also have a penchant for keeping the songs relatively short by modern standards, which forces you to listen closely so you can catch all the cool parts before they’re gone.

It’s a delicate balance they’ve struck over their debut EP and four subsequent LPs, the most recent of which is the absolutely stunning The New Trust and Friends: Battle to the Death, an album of acoustic versions of their songs from their previous four releases by the band and its peers. It was this release that truly showcased the foundations of their excellent musicianship and songwriting. It was this revelation that presaged Keep Dreaming.

Keep Dreaming is worthy of its own adjective: breautiful. Steve Albini is manning the boards, and his reputation for capturing authentic live performances remains intact. The pairing really shines, because Albini understands the importance of accentuating each sound, mining it for as much dynamic range as befits it. That being the case, he manages to make The New Trust sound massive.

My first taste of this was via the teaser single “Compromises,” which finds The New Trust sounding like Nirvana fronted by the Moz on the verses and hook, something I’d’ve never fathomed, and yet enjoyed immensely. The frenetic energy and dynamic tempo shifts they’ve been throttling through are still in place, invoking the best of ’90s indie rock descended from Fugazi. And those sultry slurring melodies make their presence felt, as well, providing some the the sexiest distorted rock you could ever hope to find this side of The Cure or Afghan Whigs, as found on the title track and “Marigolds.”

It’s especially poignant that Staples name drops The Grifters in “Veteran’s Affairs.” I truly hope he’s referring to the Memphis band that was eventually signed to Sub Pop in the mid-’90s and also had a penchant for distortion and seduction; it would explain so much. It would be remiss to call this “thinking man’s punk”; it’s more like “Renaissance man’s hardcore.” But that’s selling it short as well, hence “breautiful.”

This is heavy melody, rich in harmony and dissonance. There are moments where, instrumentally, Joy Division at their most primal might come to mind (“The Taking Tree”), but Staples’ croon with Sara Sanger’s harmony sweeten the tone and give it a wonderful sonic counterbalance. On top of all this, Julia Lancer’s talent for titanic drumming in synch with the songs every step of the way is the musical equivalent of a sparring session with an identical twin; every hit is on target, and she just knows how to catch you off guard.

On Keep Dreaming, The New Trust invoke an uncanny amalgamation of things in regards to musical influences, and emerge as a band perfect for someone who enjoys music that celebrates contrary without being contrived or so unconventional it’s inaccessible. This is true independent rock. A | Willie Edward Smith

RIYL: Rise Against, Sparta, Rival Schools/Quicksand, Engine Down

Standout tracks: Refined, Compromises, Keep Dreaming, Obsidian, In My Dreams You’re Still Alive

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