Trey Wonder – Can’t Wait – Album Review
It was surprising to see that with the many times we’ve featured Trey Wonder’s music at our pages here over these past couple years, that this is actually the first time we’ve had the man appearing in a review. Has he been playing it safe all along in our special reports section? Time to get critical! You’re in my world for real now Trey…welcome to hell! Let’s tear this new record he’s got limb-from-limb, shall we?
Alright, alright…let’s not get carried away…y’all know that ain’t me, though it is awesome to get the opportunity to talk a bit more about what this dude is capable of & creating from his lair in Hawaii. For you Alternative/Punk/Grunge/College/Indie-Rock fans out there (and…I mean…this massive multi-genre should at least cover a FEW of you right?), you should really dig on this guy’s music. Especially if you grew up in the 90’s dear readers, dear friends…Trey Wonder gets the essence of that era stamped in deep throughout the lineup of songs on his latest record called Can’t Wait. This would be the third album from Trey Wonder according to the notes I’ve got here…he released his debut record Nice Fish in 2017 and the follow-up album The Ghost Of My Father in 2018. Coincidentally, we’ve been doing reviews much longer than those two records have been out for…*cough*cough*ahem…just sayin.’
While I don’t know the entire catalog of Trey Wonder tunes by rote, I’m familiar with at least a couple cuts from his past album and several tunes from this new one from after having featured the zany videos this dude creates up on our pages. He takes us back to one of our first experiences with his music at the beginning of Can’t Wait by having “Somebody Do Something” start out the new record with a reliably rad slice of Punk/Pop ear-candy. Listen to key moments in this tune like the psychedelic twist that comes in around the 1:10 mark – that’ll tell you just about as much about Trey’s music as the punked-up pace & attitude will…dude knows how to work within a structure for sure, but he also proves in spots like this that when he chooses to color outside the lines, you’ll notice it, and it’s purposeful. To me, a track like “Somebody Do Something,” even with its grittier sound, still makes me think of bands like Superchunk that used a Punk-base at their core and also found lightning-hot guitar riffs that seemed to do something everyone else wasn’t, and discovering pure gold in the process. Like many tunes on this record and in Trey’s catalog (we’ll cover this later), “Somebody Do Something” is largely led by the bass…it’s those guitar notes that surge outside the borders…that’s where Trey’s coloring outside of the lines, thinking outside of the ol’ proverbial box, and creating something absolutely wicked on this tune.
“I Saw The Witch” was put out as the final lead-single just prior to the official release of Can’t Wait on April 10th 2020, and you bet your ass we featured this video up on our pages soon after it dropped online. Some of my favorite & most memorable highlights from Trey come right from within this very song…the sheer joy in the descent into musical mayhem & power Punk that seriously RIPS…the sludgy low-end groove with the wild guitar-tones on top…and then there’s the fact that TW cranks-up the Grunge element from the mic as well with the way he sings the hooks in the finale like he’s the ventriloquist for the angsty chip on his shoulder. That aforementioned Superchunk reference applies even more here perhaps, or at least displays the consistency in my theory…you can hear Trey’s guitar work incite a completely maniacal madness in parts of “I Saw The Witch” when it’s not oozing with a sludgy grunged-up slickness. The back & forth of the guitar notes that happen during these moments…are literally something that, on paper I would have probably scoffed at, or thought likely wouldn’t have come out as awesome as it does on this wicked cut. So kudos to Trey for following his instincts to victory on this cut…I wouldn’t have been able to see this one in my head clearly enough to bring it to life as a musician, which is why I’m here writing about the music rather than making it. I leave it to dudes like TW that can take a track like “I Saw The Witch,” which is arguably almost three whole songs as opposed to three main parts, and somehow string it all together in a way that not only makes sense, but builds the suspense & fully entertains. Musically I could get comparisons to bands like Superchunk or Built To Spill with the way the guitar hooks come ripping through our speakers so dynamically & colorfully…vocally, I like the fact that I really always hear Trey. I don’t really hear anyone else at all – I hear Trey. I’m sure if I dug real deep into my playlists and the massive catalog of records here at the studio I could figure out something if my life were to depend on it…but my dealers are paid and I’m in good shape…I’m just gonna say Trey sounds like Trey & that’s all there is to it, which is good.
What I’ve always loved about Trey’s music is that free-wheeling, anything is possible, keep-ya-guessing, intangible awesomeness that continually surprises you. There’s a bit of undeniable experimentalism in what he creates – you can hear it all over a song like “Annie Bruiser” – for example, listen to that solo around the 1:30 mark…you don’t hear too many like that now do ya? He’s a fan of pushing the boundaries in his own unique way…you’ll obviously hear comparisons that can be made to different genres and styles, but it’d be really rare to find a tune of Trey’s where you felt like he was any one thing too much more than himself, know what I mean? Love it or hate it, he’s managed to create a genuine identity in the music he makes…and the value in that is limitless…that’s what keeps people listening. The hint of mischief and psychedelic sound works really well as it begins…and ultimately that’s the part of “Annie Bruiser” that bears the most weight when it comes to the structure. Again, I’ll go into this a bit more later on down the road, but hearing what TW brings to “Annie Bruiser” from the guitar-dept is another bold reminder of just how capable he is of switching the direction of any atmosphere he’s in. Like, no sooner will you feel mired in the murk of the dank-ass sound that “Annie Bruiser” comes with, before Trey changes direction and lights this mother up with absolutely wild guitar tones you can’t take your ears off of. From texture to tone, listen to the way this whole vibe changes right around the thirty-second mark when he comes off the top ropes with the audio-equivalent of the People’s Elbow to lay us all out permanently with mind-blowing sound. Give the man the credit he deserves – I’m not going into this blind and fully expect some people will ‘get’ what Trey’s up to & some won’t – the same rules still apply when it comes to the masses…but good lord, I hope listeners can really appreciate just how lively and charged-up these songs can be. Texture is what it’s really all about…you can feel these vibes, 100%.
Lest any of us forget, Trey does every damn thing you hear on his own…and he deserves real credit for being competent & capable when it comes to everything he chooses to play. Believe me…I’ve heard these situations work out pretty rough in the past; I think there’s always an element of being able to hear what the primary or go-to instrument is within a one-man army, but I’ve been impressed with Wonder’s music and how the balance of his strengths has been pretty damn even across the spectrum. Having posted the first three cuts from Can’t Wait here at our pages, “Dressing The Corpse” is the first ‘new’ cut to me personally…and the moment I heard it, I had that real feeling of, like one, like’em all when it comes to Trey’s music…I really think if you ‘get’ this guy and the sound he’s going for, you’re really bound to dig on the vast majority of the tunes you’ll hear from throughout his whole catalog. With a Green Day-esque bounce to the music surrounding the vocals in the bass-lines and guitars, but twisted in that indescribable Trey Wonder style, “Dressing The Corpse” has a hybrid aspect to it that gives it like…a bizarre but almost danceable twist. Kind of like if you took a song by the B-52’s and then put it through a Green Day filter, and then had Trey singing it. Our Trey…not the other Tre…you following me? I think the chorus and the backing vocals were the parts of “Dressing The Corpse” that made the most impact on me…the switch in sound, energy, and direction between verse & chorus here on “Dressing The Corpse” is actually quite a bold transition, but he pulls it off extremely well.
What’s this? Four-minutes-plus? Someone check Trey for a fever and get him a cold cloth will ya? “Injury” clocks in at four-minutes & thirty-seconds…which is, no joke, nearly a minute longer than any other song on a thirteen-track album. Trey knows where his bread & butter is…that’s the advantage of knowing your sound and what you excel at; or maybe it’s more of a comment on how quickly the man keeps himself moving when it comes to making music…either way, you get the point, “Injury” makes a statement just by its length alone. Trey does the twisted/malevolent & dark vibes really well when he wants to shift in that direction, and tunes like “Injury” prove that just as much as the dank grooves we experienced in “I Saw The Witch” earlier on. I’d put “Injury” somewhere in the middle of a backwoods early Primus-like Alternative grind as Trey slow-burns through the verses and the odd-but-brilliant hum in the pre-chorus…the chorus itself becomes more like a fusion of Alice In Chains meets Deep Purple or T-Rex. Honestly I think it’s impressive what TW can get us to go along with sometimes…like when he switches up the entire sound for a moment around the 2:20 mark and completely brightens up the vibe, you’d never see it coming to begin with, and somehow we readily accept a massive transition. Even if it’s only a moment in the song, usually that’s still a very tall ask when it comes to making music – people tend to like the moment they’re in and they don’t often want it to branch out too far from the root of where it all started…but I’d be willing to bet you’ll dig these deviations by Trey just as much as I do. I think it’s ideas like these that quite often set his songs apart from so many others in a similar style – or more to the point, set him apart from what we think is in a similar style until we experience what Wonder chooses to do with his spin on the sound. Absolutely stellar punch in the main low-end groove that swings threateningly throughout the menacing sound of “Injury” – lots to love about this cut.
Now…I’ve said this in the past and I still believe it to be true…Nirvana made a shit-ton of mistakes in amongst the gold. Before you get your pitchforks ready to pitchfork me, keep in mind, this is coming from a guy that once had a car pull over on the street, where two guys got out to visually look me over and check to see if I just happened to BE Kurt Cobain walking down the street randomly…when I was fifteen…and AFTER he was already dead – all I’m saying is that I was every bit the biggest fan as you can possibly imagine. It still didn’t mean I had to give in to songs like “Sliver” that ended up on a B-sides record for a reason. I like it, sure…but I’d never think to put it right up there with the best of the best. Cobain was great at taking something simple and making it extraordinary for the most part…at its worst though, you could argue there was a bit of obviousness to the process to it when it didn’t quite possess the same inspired magic at full strength. And in my own roundabout way here, that’s probably how I feel about “No Problem” when it comes right down to it…good tune, just not one of his greatest is all. It’s a little serious, a little silly, a little new, a little old…it’s the second-shortest cut on the record and likely for a good reason – “No Problem” has an idea, it executes, and that’s kinda all there is to this story. I wouldn’t accuse TW of phoning it in here…let’s not forget, the man does all this stuff on his own…BUT…my gut tells me that Trey Wonder is capable of making about ten tunes like “No Problem” in a day compared to any one of the others that you’d find on this record, know what I mean? It’s not that it’s necessarily ‘easy’ to put together, but by comparison to the rest of his tunes, maybe ‘easier’ for him.
Listen to that attack on “We Have A Situation” as it starts will ya? Definitely sounds like we’ve got issues coming our way…it sounds like this song is out to take our lunch money as it snarls through its opening. As it plays on, “We Have A Situation” will go on to reveal some of the most accessible & catchy hooks that you’ll find on any song throughout the lineup on Can’t Wait…it’s probably a bit more balanced to the heavier-side of what TW does, but I have the feeling that the chorus is strong enough to pull in a lot of people that might think they’ve found a place to sit on the fence for a second. So BEEFY y’all! Every time this cut came around again on my playlist I felt like Wonder put this ship right back on course after veering away from the mission for a brief moment with “No Problem,” and came back like a man fully possessed with the way he scorches his way through “We Have A Situation.” From the blazing heat of the fired-up instrumentation, to the wicked intensity of the energy in the storming sound of the verses, to the insanely catchy sing-along worthy chorus…let’s just say I wouldn’t be the least surprised if this was one of the tracks on this album that ended up being a hit with just about everyone across the board. I love that this cut has the potential to drag people by the face right over to Trey’s side of the fence…maybe you’re a Pop-addict…maybe you’ll have to wait for those syrupy-sweet hooks to show up at first…but when they do, they’ll keep your attention still locked-on through the heavy stuff afterwards. The same is equally true vice-versa I believe…I think if you’re immediately enticed by the gritty heaviness of the vibe at the very beginning, you’ll totally dig how this song morphs into its upbeat chorus, and the strength of the hooks within it basically demand that all of our ears pay full attention.
I want a whole lot more of “I May Get Wasted Tonight” – this was a wicked instrumental inclusion and a real highlight in the second-half of Can’t Wait. To myself personally…and to go back to the original point I was making in this review about how being a fan of the 90’s can certainly lend a hand with loving the Trey Wonder sound…”I May Get Wasted Tonight” was about as rad as experiencing a cut like “R.O.I.” on The Breeders Last Splash record. Sometimes an instrumental jam can be the perfect thing to add into a record…but I’ll admit, it’s actually a lot more rare than people might think. For one thing, most artists/bands are damn near afraid to do it at all once they’ve set the standard and made it clear they use vocals in their music…at best you might get an instrumental as an intro or outro, but that’s hardly any kind of daring move. To put an instrumental in amongst a whole bunch of songs with vocals in the middle somewhere makes a statement on its own…it’s the kind of move that tells you the music has something equally compelling or entertaining to communicate, and that it doesn’t need words to accomplish its goals. At least that’s the idea, and that’s my theory…you listen for yourself and see if I’m right or wrong. I think songs like “I May Get Wasted Tonight” are a brilliant reminder that, hellz yeah there’s obviously a lot of badass stuff happening on the mic in the other songs that Trey chooses to sing on, but musically, this dude has really had it goin’ on the entire time…and you get to appreciate that a bit more clearly here in this instrumental moment. Personally I dig Trey’s vocals more than 90% of the time and he’s always welcome in my speakers – but I’ll also fully admit that including “I May Get Wasted Tonight” was a genuinely fun & rad addition that proved the music he makes can speak for itself too.
“Can’t Sit Still” – you’d almost have to wonder at whether or not this track might very well be the final inclusion on Can’t Wait in terms of when it was created. Is this a Corona-tune – or does it just happen to coincidentally fit the way we’re all feeling right now? There are enough lyrics to throw that theory into the blender, but if you listen to the way “Can’t Sit Still” starts out, you’ll hear it certainly applies to what we’re all goin’ through in many ways. I dig this cut personally…I like these bass-led tunes that Trey creates…there’s a bounce in the sound of “Can’t Sit Still” that reminds me of the parts of Nirvana I like best – so there you have it…balance to the universe restored…I told you I was a fan. Trey will likely make a lot of you longtime fans think back to the era of fringe-bands that had the ability to create the essence of the freak-scene underneath what was exploding on the surface. Essential bands like Mudhoney, Sonic Youth, and Dandelion that were contributing killer records that had elements of the Grunge scene without being too obviously a part of it…instead they incorporated a degree of untamed unpredictability and authentic raw attitude that yielded just as many tangible & reliable hooks as it did moments of pure abandon in the pursuit of something unknown or unfamiliar to us in music. You could probably make a comparison even to Weezer and their mega-hit “Hashpipe” for the way Trey rumbles his way through a lot of “Can’t Sit Still,” especially as it begins – it’s the chorus that sends this cut into a darker set of vibes, not the verses. I dunno…call me crazy, but this was a pretty damn addictive track on TW’s new record…he’s nailin’ the alt-vibes spot-on and I felt like both parts of the song’s personality & demeanor worked solidly in his favor throughout “Can’t Sit Still.” My ears tell me he’s likely got a verse that outshines the chorus by a significant margin, but my gut tells me that this dark & dense, thick-ass atmosphere he creates overall still has more than enough appeal to it to hook a few more people into Trey’s music.
Kickin’ the energy back into brighter terrain on “Turning Pages” – I think he’s done a great job on this cut as well. Probably more in common with College/Indie-Rock on this tune than its Punk/Pop roots, but to me, this has always been a massively enticing part of Trey’s music. It’s not that it sounds possible for any one of us, but it’s inspiring on that odd level, enough to make you wanna try…like we should all be getting in a room & rocking the fuck out like this guy does, know what I mean? Every future musician out there needs someone to look up to in that respect…someone to ignite that spark and tell’em to get in the studio and start cranking out some tunes – and I’d imagine there’s gotta be at least a few people out there listening that have taken a cue from Wonder’s work-ethic, relentless energy, and passion. I think there’s an argument to be made that “Turning Pages” might not quite reach the same level of clarity or punch in the production that some of the other tracks tend to have…this is definitely a treble-up tune despite being largely led by the bass – but I think Trey’s reaching for a more raw & electric vibe when it comes to the energy in “Turning Pages” and how it transmits to us as listeners. So I’m cool with it…I felt like it was a bit thinner in the mix, but that it was more of a stylistic choice being made; when it comes right down to it, I think the end results are still achieved – “Turning Pages” is a seriously fun jam. And it’s probably because of that live-wire, anything-is-possible feeling that Trey Wonder creates…you’ll find that there’s actually quite an array of emotions, feelings, and thoughts expressed throughout the lyrics of “Turning Pages,” but the whole vibe of the music never quits on its upbeat attitude and rubbery bass-line grooves either…you end up with a solid mix of contrast that works strongly if you dig into this.
“Dead Already” is probably a cut that Trey should be looking at as a single. In some ways, it’s probably the one tune that reminded me the most of other songs that I’ve heard from him personally, but not so close that you could specifically pick out any one part and tag it to another cut you know from Wonder. Ultimately, you gotta hand that to his own signature style & sound…it might sound familiar if you know his tunes, but that’s more due to the fact that he’s got his thang and makes the most of what it can do. If we’re talking about accessible hooks, energy, and melody though…chances are, “Dead Already” is going to have what listeners are looking for in spades…you’ll find’em just as much in the verse of this tune as you will in the chorus. That being said, I think he’s got 10% more he could still put in on the vocals when it comes to its main hooks…everything surrounding those is complete gold. I think he nails the verses with exceptional energy and spark and gets the Pop/Punk sound kickin’ ass in a really inspired way – when it comes to the chorus, I think he’s slightly tripped-up a bit towards the end by the bend the melody requires, but he’s real damn close. If anything it’s the very last word ‘thread’ that seems to be getting the best of him, and it’s plenty forgivable…the man’s givin’ it a solid go and if it seems like I’m complaining I’m not – I just know what he’s capable of is all. The most important thing in all-things-music is that the idea is there to begin with…that there’s a tangible seed that can grow into a tree; whether that comes out on the first crack, or it takes a remix, or a live-performance to fully bring out the maximum potential of a song…honestly, does it even matter? Get there how you get there, or don’t & move on…there’s no rules when it comes to this stuff. Wonder’s got a solid version of “Dead Already” down here in my opinion…absolutely listenable without hesitation. Could he make it better than it is right now? Perhaps. But each and every one of you out there that have ever written and recorded a song of your own likely feel the same way about a couple of your own tracks too…it’s how it goes. I listen to mainstream stuff all the time as well, and believe me, they’re not immune to moments like these where we question a tone or a note or two…the ideas are what’s important, and Trey’s got’em.
I’ll admit…I have a moment here & there where I occasionally feel that the drums get a little busy on certain tracks, or a little less varied in sound from song to song than you might hope to expect. But I mean, c’mon…likely the same could be said for half of any record that could carry the label of Punk in whatever way, shape, or form. I wouldn’t argue that Trey finds the beat & rhythms he’s seeking out, he does…maybe it’s not so much of a case of him being busy or similar sounding as it is the fact that I’m just getting old. Anyhow…this started out with good intentions…to point out that I dig the drums for the most-part…that I think the bass always comes out with rad energy & ideas and an inspired spark of its own…and that when it comes to what Trey can accomplish with his guitar, he’s seriously underrated. This is what I was alluding to way, way back earlier when I started this review and I was so much younger than I am now. With many of these tunes being so locked-down in the rhythm section, he’s free to roam and experiment with his guitar…and that’s what leads to the wicked sounds, ideas, and tones you’ll hear on a cut like “Just A Minute” right as it begins, or the highlight details that he adds into songs like “Annie Bruiser” or “I Saw The Witch” as the album started out. The point is that most bands/artists tend to lean on their guitar as the main vehicle for the melody…TW doesn’t always go that route, and as a result, he tends to end up inside of imaginative sounds that sincerely entertain our ears, because what he’s doing ends up finding authentic uniqueness through methods like he uses. No doubt that he leans much harder into his Punk-side on the majority of “Just A Minute,” but he’s also got a really rad transition around the ninety-second mark into a real hazy vibe that sounds like a medicated melody and a real mood of its own on Can’t Wait.
Gotta love that bass rhythm that starts out the last track “Happy With Me” before everything is said & done, Trey’s got an immediate musical hook on display here. I don’t know if it’s my ears getting old, or he’s slightly retooled this song from when we originally posted up the video at our page, or if it’s the difference between hearing it on YouTube instead of a player with an EQ or what…but it does sound like this has changed slightly from what I remember production-wise. I’m not arguing better or worse, just different…but who knows, my mind is every bit as fuzzy as my face is at this point in life…maybe it’s exactly the same and I’m just trippin’ out. No objections from me here…Trey’s gone with a reliable cut to finish off Can’t Wait and a single he’s tested out & knows the people dig…and within the words of this last track you’ll also find him making an overt personal statement of sorts as well. Saying it plain & simple, “I want you to be happy with me” applies just as much to us as listeners as it does to Trey towards himself…like a mantra of sorts, telling this punker that his passion of choice is the place where he belongs. Or at least, that he wants to belong…a lot of this tune is about being able to convince yourself, to accept, and to believe in possibility & hope…in Trey’s own strange way of putting it of course. Plus I love that like, outta nowhere, just past the ninety-second mark of this tune, Wonder puts in a solo that sounds like it could have come right out of a record by The Cure…and at this point, you sure as shit weren’t expecting that to happen now were ya? “Happy With Me” was a rad last blast of energy that’ll throw ya a couple last curveballs before it’s all over and end this album on solid ground.
Find out more about Trey Wonder at his official homepage at: https://treywonder.com
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