Trevor and The Joneses’ 2012 full length LP ‘There Was Lightning’ was a well-constructed celebration of retro rock. The Vegas band’s fuzzy guitar driven style pulled a bunch of great late 60s and 70s influences together and gave garage band fans a record that blended psych and rock with the best elements of The Stooges, Lou Reed and Neil Young’s Crazy Horse. What it lacked in originality it more than made up for with enthusiasm, and despite being the kind of record that took a while before it found an audience, it had a few very vocal fans. Not least of these was Chris Topham, owner of the independent UK record label Plane Groovy, who picked up the album for a vinyl release in 2014, long before vinyl sales rocketed and twelve inches of shiny black plastic became the hip medium of choice.
The band’s follow up, 2017’s ‘Take You To Stay’ was more commercial, but certainly wasn’t short on great tunes. Whether tackling the Charlatans-esque ‘Squares’, exploring hazy 60s psych (‘Breaking Bones’) or finding themselves waist deep in the pure jangle-pop of ‘Well As Well’ – a number loaded with Byrdsy guitar lines – Trevor and his band certainly sounded more confident than before. Some might well scoff at a band becoming more commercial, but there was little doubt that the songs were much stronger all round.
‘Sugar Me Timbers’, the lead track on 2020’s three tracker ‘Get It!’, take a further sidestep towards a slightly poppier direction, albeit in a weird sort of way, and is almost unrecognisable as being that same band who gave the world ‘There Was Lightning’. By fusing a love of 70s pop with a vaguely arty stance, it’s a number driven hard rhythms throughout. A stabbed piano takes the lead, but for all of it’s melodic edge, there’s also something that feels a little uneasy. That feeling is compounded by the arrival of a wheezing sax, and by the time the three or four distinct elements come together, The Joneses almost sound as if they’re channelling parts of an old Roxy Music demo. A clean lead vocal challenges the music for dominance but seems to be more concerned about melodies than adding an easily memorable hook. The track builds slowly, adding layers, leading the listener to expect a longer jammed out climax (tunes like ‘Show Yourself’ and ‘Superslow’ really weren’t that long ago…) but then…everything stops dead. This is potentially very cool…but also a tad unnerving.
Luckily for older fans, the other two cuts are a lot easier to connect with. The title track reverts to a fairly direct garage rock mood where ringing guitars take the lead, while a shamelessly 60s sound emerges. In terms of all round catchiness, it’s the standout track here thanks to a simple chorus driven by harmonies, while an instrumental break accentuates the retro feel with a hefty twang. It won’t be anything you haven’t heard before – not least of all from The Joneses – but it provides a more than welcome three minute distraction. Just as appealing but in a different way, the acoustic ‘Mumbo Jumbo’ sounds like a leftover from the previous album. Its very 90s sound lends a hugely nostalgic quality right from first listen and although the five minutes are purely given over to voice and guitar, the performance sounds wonderfully complete. There’s something in the track’s hazy – almost lazy – melody that instantly recalls Green Apple Quick Step’s dreamier tunes and even Trevor’s choice of lead vocal appears to channel the should’ve-been-massive Ty Willman.
With three songs that share no real musical connection, ‘Get It!’ plays like a stop gap in almost every respect. It’s the sound of a band playing for time – truly understandable since this release appeared during a global pandemic when booking new studio time became impossible and live gigs were off the table altogether – but also sounds like a band seemingly in search of new musical directions. This is fine too, of course, since ‘Take You To Stay’ was a big change from ‘…Lightning’ and bands need to progress. What it isn’t is something that should be approached casually. Fans will surely welcome any music at all from Trev and company, but the first time listener is strongly recommended to check out 2017’s ‘Take You To Stay’ first.