Travistan

Travistan

by Travis MorrisonTravis Morrison

CD

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Overview

Much like ex-Pavement frontman Stephen Malkmus, former Dismemberment Plan lead singer Travis Morrison faces the daunting task of detaching himself from the large shadow his juggernaut band cast over the indie rock community. Free from the democratic constraints the Plan imposed upon him, Morrison presents a far more eclectic side of himself than seen on any record prior, and the results were heavily foreshadowed via mp3s on his website during Travistan's production phase. Nevertheless, Plan loyalists are almost guaranteed to scrutinize this album from start to finish, deconstructing it on a microscopic level with a magnifying glass to find any possible reason to complain why Morrison and company called it a day far too soon. The immediate thing that comes through on Travistan that was missing on some of the Plan records is that Morrison sounds like he's having fun experimenting with new sounds and textures (check the Joe Jackson-esque piano playing on "The Word Cop") and not brooding so often. Combined with the added relief of starting clean on a new label with a new backing band (including Death Cab for Cutie's Jason McGuerin) and the freedom to produce without the pressures of making it better than a Dismemberment record, it's instantaneously notable. "Get Me Off This Coin," a folksy series of political interludes sprinkled throughout (which could get tiresome to a few people, but that's what fast-forward buttons were made for), and "Born in '72," which re-creates a live setting with quirky little jabs (and a melodic homage to fellow D.C. residents Fugazi during the breakdown), let the audience know that Morrison is well aware of the pressures and expectations of a solo record. One audience member even slyly asks "Think they'll play "'The City'"?," a reference to one of the Plan's well-loved songs. But it's not without fault to say these songs could have been on the next Plan album. The signature video game noises and analog synths are still anchors of the song arrangements, and the inclusion of more electronic-based production only further reinforces the idea that Morrison is just as versatile behind a mixing board and sampler as he is behind a guitar and a vocal mike. Morrison's lyrics have always been a strong element of the Plan's popularity, and here he has never been more creative in his song subjects. A dark and philosophical muse on the mortality of life ("People Die") is followed by a wish for caged zoo animals to rebel against their captors in rather violent ways ("Song for the Orca"). There are also two beautiful moments of quiet introspection in "Any Open Door" and "Angry Angel," and the closest thing to a Ben Gibbard homage with the final, untitled track. Make no bones about it, Morrison is challenging expectations and listeners by stretching his musical boundaries and defying people to come along for the ride through close listening. And those who loved the Plan for the original angle they brought to a near soulless genre will be pleasantly surprised that Morrison is holding his own and staying true to himself.

Product Details

Release Date: 09/28/2004
Label: Barsuk
UPC: 0655173103821
catalogNumber: 31038
Rank: 133450

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Travis Morrison   Primary Artist,Organ,Synthesizer,Bass,Guitar,Percussion,Piano,Xylophone,Melodica,Sampling
Mike Dugan   Organ,Synthesizer,Bass,Guitar,Percussion,Piano,Xylophone,Melodica,Sampling
John Vanderslice   Background Vocals
Corinne Lynch   Viola
Chris Walla   Organ,Synthesizer,Bass,Guitar,Percussion,Piano,Xylophone,Melodica,Sampling
Jason McGerr   Drums
Phil Brazena   Violin
Dan Doggett   Double Bass
Amanda Fazzone   Choir, Chorus
Megan Katcher   Viola
Josh LeBar   Double Bass
Kendall Nordin   Choir, Chorus
Tiffany Shanta   Violin
Travistani National String Orchestra   Strings
Travistani Women's Chorus   Choir, Chorus
Sean Urban   Violin

Technical Credits

Mike Dugan   drum machine
Don Zientara   Producer,Audio Production
Chris Walla   Producer,drum machine,Audio Production
Travis Morrison   drum machine

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