Trey Wonder – The Long Dark Turn – Album Review
It never takes all that long before Trey Wonder is cookin’ up somethin’ new in the ol’ studio lab. Y’all know the name at this point in time after how much I’ve written about his music here on our pages throughout the years – if you don’t, you’re welcome for the intro to Trey and welcome to our site – congrats on discovering our tiny soapbox on the internet from which I rant & rave about people’s stuff.
I know…hmmm…looks like about five out of the thirteen cuts that have been released on Trey Wonder’s brand-new record, which incidentally just came out in this past 24 hours – the rest of this lineup are as fresh for me as they are for you. The Long Dark Turn is out there now, right on his website, go get some – as always you can find the links to every artist & band at the bottom of these long screeds I write out.
Trey’s new album starts out with…hmmm…what’s he on about here? “Envy Eye Vs. The Catapult” you say? Well what the heck is THAT? I suppose he gives us the answer in the quick spoken-word intro before he launches himself into the punked-up gear we know good ol’ TW loves to thrash & thrive in. The first thing I noticed as a longstanding listener of this dude’s tunes was that the drums were flexing a bit more of a different sound to’em, and yessir…I dig that. The playing has always been on-point, but it has always seemed like that was an opportunity for his music to evolve, and I feel like he’s put the work into that throughout much of this new lineup of tunes. It’s a solid cut to get the energy flowing…I’m a little neither here nor there with the lyrics…verses work out great, the chorus is a little outside my style or personal taste or whatever, but that ain’t on Trey. He comes out swinging big with “Envy Eye Vs. The Catapult” as The Long Dark Turn begins and keeps the music movin’ at a fierce pace…all y’all punksters out there want energy as a record starts up, and Wonder gives ya plenty of that with his opening track.
Take it EASY on the coffee there though, will ya bud!?! Listen to this dude poundin’ it up on the drums as “Eating Me Alive” starts to shift gears! I heard this cut back in 2021…still a memorable track in Trey’s catalog – it’s one of those tunes where I felt like I was already digging what he had goin’ on in the way it opens up in such a heavy gear…then that first switch into his guitar riffs & verse brought it up to that next level of excitement…and then he lays down one of his raddest & most badass solos later on down the road. I guess what I’m sayin’ is, “I’m all about you baby” – “Eating Me Alive” is a grotesque slice of versatility to be found in Wonder’s set here…arguably just as beautiful by the time it ends on such a delicate note as it has been grippingly graphic along the way with all the face-eating and whatnot. It’s a bit loose in the lyrical sense, but much of what Trey writes can be like that…his thought-process seems to be about as rapid as his snare shots are, and he can be a lot to keep up with in terms of wondering how he gets from point-A to point-B sometimes, or how everything all ties-in together in that regard. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t – I’d wager that’s part of the mystery of music overall – but that being said, individual lines along the way can resonate just as memorably with the right imagery, and Trey’s working with plenty of it here. Ultimately, he’s roaming through a lot of gears on this one tune & it’s pretty ambitious when it comes right down to it – let’s not forget, he does this all on his own. Throughout the many twists and turns through this cut, Trey keeps thriving & surviving, face still intact.
“Queen Bee” was definitely new for me…this was a cut I could instantly recognize as a track I hadn’t heard yet. Trey starts wearing his outsider badge proudly through the lyrics of this cut, takin’ the proverbial whiz on things like society, social media…feelings & assumptions…things along those lines – even himself – make no mistake, he’s not even immune from any criticism he has. Trey’s more than willing to offer his opinion at any given time when it comes to making music, and right on I say, that’s the right outlet for it. “Queen Bee” has yet another absolutely killer guitar moment right around the 0:35/1:45 marks…and really, that whole psychedelically-tinged groove he’s rockin’ right after that’s part of the main meat of the song & how it all started, scratches the itch big time as well. He’s got his thing when it comes to vocals…I’m not here to sell ya on that being the main feature of what Trey Wonder creates, but it does fit the style he’s rockin’ in and he’s very consistent when it comes to his tunes in that sense…very much part of the identity I his sound. “Queen Bee” probably had its biggest highlights in the instrumentation for me personally…I mean…yeah…it DID…but that didn’t really stop me from diggin’ the rest either. He’s always got somethin’ in the mix worth listening to, and that remains the case here too.
“Treat It Like It’s New” was the first cut I’d checked out in advance of The Long Dark Turn back at the tail end of 2020 – and the drag of the pandemic era hadn’t quite set in too hard just yet. Personally, from what I’ve experienced in Trey’s music, like many other artists/bands out there, you can find a point in the catalog where things do indeed start taking The Long Dark Turn towards the more grim reality we’ve been livin’ in. “Treat It Like It’s New” still has that vibrant energy of the pre-pandemic era, the bounce & grit that suits Trey best, and an absolutely wicked guitar solo you can’t miss during the second minute. It’s a classic take on the Punk/Pop sound with the whimsical vibes and college-rockin’ creative freedom that the genre is fully loaded with throughout its history, but it’s a gear that Trey knows inside and out & never disappoints us with when he’s in this mode. All-in-all, I think this was a smart inclusion into the new record not only for the energy it brings, but it’s one of the more upbeat moments you’ll find in the lineup of The Long Dark Turn vibe-wise…Trey’s still Trey and always gonna BE Trey, but yeah…you get it, there’s a difference between up-tempo and upbeat…he does a solid job of working both elements into this track. Oddly enough, this cut does have a more familiar Wonder-style structure and sound to it, but there are times where sticking to what we do best makes the most sense – he might be relying on some of his old tricks here, but “Treat It Like It’s New” anyway will ya?
The latest cut that I’d posted on our pages from Trey was “Down The Rabbit Hole,” just at the end of last month. He’s got a lot of great things goin’ on here…in particular, he’s really singing this song a lot more than he…tends to – know what I mean? He’s got a challenging part in the melody that requires a bit more from him than normal to hit the sweet-spot, and you can hear that he’s more than capable & gets there no problem on “Down The Rabbit Hole” – I’d definitely be inclined to encourage him in that direction even further – the highest points of his vocals sound pretty damn good on this cut. Where I think he could potentially move the needle that much more in a moment like that, would be to explore what it might sound like without the low-end layer of harmonies there…honestly that might draw the lighter vibes of his vocals to the surface that much more & make those spots even more of a standout. Really good stuff happening here though overall…Wonder’s production on this cut stands out, and so too does the performance…maybe bring those drums down a little bit just so that it’s not necessarily the dominant feature whenever he gets rambunctious, but that’s probably just splitting hairs. I ain’t hatin’ on what I hear in this cut, and I maintain – Trey finds some of the most absolutely killer tones & textures to work with in his guitar work that you’re gonna discover out there in any genre or corner of the scene. “Down The Rabbit Hole” will give ya a good dose of that in action once again…he’s STINGY with these moments beyond belief and I’ve mentioned that before…but I’m also greedy when it comes to music and I’ll take what I can get. Basically it always boils down to the fact that Wonder is able to generate massive waves of accessibility in very short bursts…were he a more devious music maker, perhaps he might exploit these instrumental sections for a bit longer & milk these hooks as maybe they should be – but at the end of the day, as long as he’s got something like that goin’ on at some point, you’ll always find some kind of sonic gold nugget that you’ve never heard before, and never would have expected.
“Man Made Flu” was a cut that we posted up in September of last year…one of those polarizin’ punk songs that Trey’s got the balls to put out into the world, which I respect. Shoutin’ out Alex Jones in a track…or *shudders* even writing his name out here makes my skin crawl, and there’s that, but I’ve got no problem being on the opposite sides of any scenario or political side of the fence…people are people man…if we all just went around hatin’ on everyone because they disagreed with us about this or that, this floating rock we’re all sharing will definitely get that much smaller, I assure ya. Angry & fired-up straight off the drop, “Man Made Flu” is certainly an example of Trey at his most no-holds-barred & letting off just a wee bit of steam about how he feels about the pandemic era and all its motivations. He stops short of including the Illuminati, for which I’m grateful…other than that he knows how I feel about all this, but I respect that he’s an artist with a point of view and the courage to share what most others wouldn’t dare. I’m not here to debate who’s right & who’s wrong ALL the time – who the fuck am I? I’m here to tell ya what works…it’s pretty straightforward y’all. Trey’s keepin’ the strings loose and rockin’ like he’s raw-doggin’ here…it’s a bit of a garage-rocker to a degree and a bit thin, but there’s a vicious underground rhythm in the bass-lines and combination of the live-wire guitars that makes for a stellar combination. “Man Made Flu” is on the lo-fi side of the Punk sound, but hey man – tell me you don’t feel the energy & angst at work here – Trey went into this track with a vision & strong ideas of what he wanted to say, he attacked it, and got the results he was looking for…as far as I’m concerned that’s cool.
Besides…you see what I’m sayin’ – the man’s got a heart inside his chest just like the rest of us and it’s beatin’ loud & proud on “Mi Novia,” which translates to “My Girlfriend” in English as far as I know. Trey’s got that genuine gift of knowing the real Punk spirit and how to lace it perfectly into what he creates in a very raw & real way – “Mi Novia” had me grinnin’ from ear to ear, especially when he went into a part singin’ about how she’s only ugly when she’s mad, and he’s “ugly all the time” – Wonder goes on to drop the hammer right afterwards and lays out a classic Trey moment I’ll leave for you to hear for yourselves. Every so often, you get those punch-line moments…not always necessarily jokes, but the way the set-up & delivery occurs within a song, but you get the idea – that brief pause right before or after you lay out the real goods in a lyric can be a highly effective inclusion, which it definitely is here. He’s rockin’ with sweetness in-check on “Mi Novia” and it’s a track that represents that side of his sound & persona really well – this is the Trey that I tend to dig on just that much more. Don’t get it twisted – he’s got plenty to offer when it comes to his more jarring attitude-laden tracks too, but you’ll find he’s got a natural charm to his punkass style that’s like…genuinely endearing. It’s strange, I’ll admit that – but it’s true – people like Trey Wonder have their own gravitational orbit to them, and we WANT to pay our attention to artists that have his level of dedication & passion – this is who we cheer for. Songs like “Mi Novia” make it that much easier to do on a universal level…there’s a whole lot of appeal to this cut.
The polar opposite to “Mi Novia” is pretty much “Selective Terror” in many ways – this is the sound of the frantic & scattered reality of LIFE and the goddamn nightmare it can become. And…wait…did he just fucking drop “Row Row Row Your Boat” into the ending of this song? Is that what I just heard? Bro. Bro just because YOUR life has to be filled with nursery rhymes does NOT mean that I have to go through that, does it? Where is THAT rule written down? I kid, I kid…it actually makes astounding sense to have included that part into “Selective Terror” & makes even more sense as to why it becomes the rampaging finale of madness that it truly IS…like…I mean…I’m just saying, if I had to hear that tune every day or had any kind of real world responsibilities whatsoever, I would FEEL like this song SOUNDS by the end of it all – and I 100% believe that’s exactly what Trey Wonder intended by including “Row Row Row Your Boat” to finish it off with its punishing finale. What I do like is the thickness here in the production…that’s more along the lines of what sounds like it works best for TW’s vibe overall…seems like it’s got that right mix of menace & mayhem to go along with the venom he’s spittin’ into the eye of the daily grind here. Not sure I know what to tell him here…life choices bud…they’re tough! I didn’t make’em though…so as to why I gotta be here sittin’ through this laundry list of complaints yearning desperately for some kind of freedom or way out of it…I do not know. I gave shit to a guy not too long ago for writing a song about sitting in traffic too, so there you have it, I’m impartial. We all gotta write about something right? Trey puts the work into the performance of “Selective Terror” in the vocals throughout the verses and those worked out brilliantly…and as much as it might seem like I’m bitching about the inclusion of a nursery rhyme here, I feel like I got the point he was making; it worked, and oddly fit right into this frantic vibe.
“Element 115” is a rad cut that takes you into the stratospheric elements and right on into outer space and aliens & all that…it’s a track that we ended up posting up back in April last year along with its video up at our pages – you can find that by clicking right here, along with more of my thoughts on “She Hates Vaccines” & “Eating Me Alive” as well. Even more-so than “Selective Terror,” it’s the mix that Wonder gets on “Element 115” that nails it for me…even including the drums this time around…they’re sittin’ nicely in the mix in a way that allows us to get to the rest easily, and my ears appreciate it, yessir. As far as the guitar goes – absolutely some of my favorite stuff from Trey tone & melody-wise here – and I’d say overall, it’s actually one of the more complete & balanced cuts you’ll find in the man’s catalog – “Element 115” is one of those TW tracks that I’d imagine I’ll always have time for. I mean…c’mon y’all – try this experiment out for yourself, loop this cut on repeat, and tell me the way that this song starts up doesn’t get you wanting to listen to it all over again! No joke – the beginning of “Element 115,” the opening instrumental intro-part that’s about fifty seconds or so long, is some of my favorite music from Trey without question. Got no problems at all with the rest either – I’m just sayin’ that this track has got such a killer & irresistible energy & melody to it as it begins that I’m hooked helplessly every single time.
Some of the harder-hitting cuts from Trey have really worked out well in his favor on this record, including “Parallels” which has him echoing the title through a split-personality tune that brings the loud/quiet dynamic to the forefront. Switching back & forth between a brooding & moody sound, to an explosive energy that stomps its way through your speakers with enormous force, “Parallels” felt like a different experience with Wonder’s music than I tend to have in listening to many of his tunes, and I always appreciate a lil’ more diversity over the years for sure – who wouldn’t? Sounds like he’s poundin’ on a large BUCKET, but “all-in-all that’s okay” – I felt like it gave “Parallels” an extra chip on its shoulder and that raw electricity that always seems to work in his favor. He’s practically diggin’ into the old-school roots of when Rap-met-Rock here…stuff like you’d find in the underground back in the day like the Judgment Night soundtrack & whatnot…”Parallels” is about as hard-hitting as I’ve ever heard this man in action at its most intense, and the melodically dark moments are equally effective dynamically.
Savage riffin’ as “The Sever” begins…you can feel the build happening quickly here on this cut – though I’m not 100% sure we ever really got to that next-level with this track. Don’t get me wrong…as a whole, I’m not opposed to it either…for a moment in time, it works and I’m diggin’ it…I think I feel like there was an even more manic gear that Trey was missing here to take this track up a notch as it played on – it felt a bit…even. Weird way to describe it I know…maybe consistent is a better word – he’s not exactly rockin’ an anti-chorus here, but it’s hard to argue that the verse or chorus really make it any more exciting than the music had already made it…maybe that’s what I’m trying to say. Like…as it starts, “The Sever” instantly has me reaching for the volume to turn this right the fuck UP, because I love what I hear in that first verse…but I did feel like I kept searching for that next-level to this track & the ultimate payload I was expecting never did quite show up. Good tune, just not one that takes it all that much further than the heights of which it starts is all, and sometimes that happens – “don’t take this the wrong way” Trey, it’s just a reality of makin’ music there brother. Another reality is that sometimes a mere moment can make a song for us listeners out here…and though I DID want more to the rest of this particular cut, whenever those guitars fired up again, I’ll admit he had me listening intently every time.
“Battle Midnight” was dropped around this time last year…maybe just a little bit before. Buried in the mirth & sarcasm here, at least to a degree I’d imagine, “Battle Midnight” doesn’t hold back in sharing a scathing amount of opinions on just about everything, right up to & including the pandemic eventually as well. One of those transitory tunes that shows how the music of Trey Wonder began to morph from what we heard in the themes of his prior album Can’t Wait into what we hear scattered within this lineup of cuts on The Long Dark Turn. You gotta admit, it’s probably pretty rare that you hear a song so enthusiastic & casual about going to buy a whole rack of guns…or at the very least, it’s definitely rarer here north of the border in Canada outside of the USA. It’s part of the sarcastic charm of Trey Wonder in action, and a large part of what works really well in his music…you don’t see many of his best lines ever coming atcha – the launch into the main hooks of “Battle Midnight” is perfect proof of that. It’s a mixture of mischief & mayhem, and proudly so – it’s like what you’d expect a moment like one of those old shopping marathons where a store gives you a thousand bucks and you can go in to grab everything you can within fifteen minutes, only it’s guns instead of avocados & rippin’ by in less than four minutes.
I definitely stand by my previous comments on “She Hates Vaccines” reminding me of Pearl Jam’s “Last Kiss” or something like “Stand By Me” – it just has that kind of vibe – and just because music might remind me of something else doesn’t mean I ain’t digging what I hear, you follow me? I’m more than cool with more of something I already like, and there’s no way anyone could consider this track to be any kind of carbon copy of anything else, despite using a similar chord progression to what you’ve heard in the songs I’ve cited & about a million more that I haven’t. At the end of the day, honestly, I think that’s impressive and I always give credit where credit is due – I look at it this way…we’re constantly being told that ‘it’s all been done’ when it comes to making music, which is entirely bullshit to begin with, but tracks like “She Hates Vaccines” prove that I’m right. Sure Trey is still using a progression that traces right back to the roots of the guitar/Rock’s history – I get that – but do you think they’d rock it like this back in the 50s? How about the 70s? Maybe the 2000s? What about none? The reason I’d choose the latter isn’t because it’s not somewhat comparable still on a fundamental level, but the way that Trey innovates this sound in his own signature way with his classic punker attitude on display, all gives it a twist that arguably either further evolves the sound/style overall, or at the very least takes it down into a new potential avenue for it to thrive in. Like for real…you can see how many reviews I’ve written and that doesn’t even cover a tenth of what I’ve heard in this lifetime – I’m no stranger to any genre…I’ve heard a lot of Punk in my lifetime…I don’t spend a lot of time comparing Trey’s music to anyone else out there, because he’s really found his own approach, and identity as an artist because of his efforts in that. I’m a melody guy at the heart of it all…so there’s no question about whether or not I’d advocate for what I hear in this final cut…this low-key side of Trey is definitely one I’d be exploring more if I was him, and it makes for a definitive ending to The Long Dark Turn that’s conclusive…you know you’ve reached the end here, and in my opinion, any time you can sense that in a final song is a great way to wrap it up.
And so I will as well. Good job Trey.
Find out more about Trey Wonder at his official website at: https://treywonder.com
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