As a child, I was simultaneously exhilarated and terrified by carousels, clowns, organ grinder monkeys, and the ocean. I never outgrew those weird attractions/phobias. I still become joyful and anxious at the sight of a spider monkey wearing a bellhops hat. I had a similar emotional response the first time I listened to Trailer Brides High Seas.
Like its predecessors, Smelling Salts and Whine De Lune, the bands third disc is a spooky, swampy triumph. Scott Goolsbys reverb-laced guitar, his brother Brads primal drums and Daryl Whites bowed bass form a creepy-crawly foundation for the vocals of Melissa Swingle, the bands chief songwriter. Swingles drawl seizes your attention with its softened consonants, off-kilter phrasing, and knotted-up combination of wisdom, weariness, secrecy, and sexiness. She knows something, and if you lean close, shell whisper in your ear and mess with your head.
Itchin For You demonstrates Swingles lyrical talents and her understanding of unrequited love: Poor little lightning bug, I know just how he feels/Hes flashing hard at my porch light/Shes real pretty, she wont listen/Shes a white-hot, 60-watt vixen/Ill be flashing for you, but you just aint in the mood. The lyrics to Thankful Dirt, Ghost Of Mae West, and Bird Feet Feelings are all quirky poetry, falling somewhere between the gothic textures of Flannery OConnor and the cosmic ramblings of a junkyard dealer whos huffed too much gasoline while listening to Tom Waits records.
The band digs into a deep groove on Run Rosie Run, and All Thine shows off the ability to deliver a great hook. Jesco is a slinky toe-tapper about clog dancer Jesco White, the subject of Jacob Youngs remarkable 1991 documentary Dancing Outlaw. Throughout the disc, Swingle adds tasteful splashes of harmonica, piano, banjo and musical saw. High Seas may seem mildly wobbly on first listen, but I found it to be decidedly more unsettling and addictive with each subsequent spin.