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The Tripwires

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The Tripwires might be called a definitive Seattle all-star combo, assuming you only had access to musicians who weren't part of the grunge movement. Granted, drummer Mark Pickerel was a founding member of the Screaming Trees and Truly, but his later work with Neko Case, Steve Fisk, and Jim Carroll moves him just far enough away from the flannel shirt brigades that one can give him a pass for this category. Elsewhere, lead vocalist and guitarist John Ramberg played with the Seattle combos Stumpy Joe and the Model Rockets before joining the Minus 5 with Scott McCaughey and Peter Buck. Lead guitarist Johnny Sangster was a member of local acts the Sharing Patrol, the Congratulators, and the Dear John Letters as well as Steve Turner & His Bad Ideas, a folk-rock side project fronted by the Mudhoney guitarist. (Johnny has also worked as a producer and engineer with a number of leading acts from the Pacific Northwest.) And bassist Jim Sangster is a longtime member of the Young Fresh Fellows and the Picketts, as well as the endearingly goofy side project the Boatrampsmen. The four men's paths have crossed on many occasions -- Ramberg and Pickerel have both been part of Neko Case's backing band, the Sangster brothers were both in the Congratulators and Steve Turner & His Bad Ideas and are floating members of Pickerel's combo Mark Pickerel & His Praying Hands, and Ramberg and Jim Sangster have each played extensively with Scott McCaughey, respectively in the Minus 5 and the Young Fresh Fellows. It was almost inevitable that the four friends would end up in a group together, and in 2007 they went into a recording studio to record Makes You Look Around, a fine set of uptempo pop tunes written by Ramberg that was released by the Paisley Pop Records label in the fall of that year. Given the busy schedules of the four members, the Tripwires haven't toured much, but they play occasional live gigs in the Pacific Northwest, and a June 2009 show opening for the Young Fresh Fellows led a reporter for the online journal Three Imaginary Girls to rave "The Tripwires blew us right out of our Chucks." ~ Mark Deming

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