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Makes You Look Around

The Tripwires

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Album Review

The Tripwires are a Seattle semi-supergroup; drummer Mark Pickerel was a member of the Screaming Trees, bassist Jim Sangster played with the Young Fresh Fellows, guitarist and singer John Ramberg also works with the Minus Five, and guitarist Johnny Sangster has served as a producer, engineer, and studio player for the likes of Mudhoney, the Supersuckers, and the Posies. But if you're expecting the Tripwires' debut album, Makes You Look Around, to sound like some sort of Pacific Northwest Super Session, you'll probably be a bit disappointed, though not for long — this is a first-rate example of smart pop, loaded with killer hooks, cool melodies, and concise guitar interplay. Ramberg wrote the songs on Makes You Look Around (except for a stripped-down cover of Chuck Berry's "Tulane"), and while one can hear faint echoes of the influence of the Young Fresh Fellows in his flashes of off-kilter wit, for the most part his tunes deliver plenty of no-nonsense rock & roll that moves with a sure, insistent feel and a spunk that's part Merseybeat, part New Wave, Skinny Tie Division (though there's a vague twangy undertow to "Lessonpony" and "Sold Yer Guitar Blues," while "Big Electric Light" reveals an unexpected psychedelic influence). Scott McCaughey contributes guest vocals to several songs on this album, but he doesn't steal the show away from the band, which sounds solid and enthusiastic throughout while making the most of Ramberg's fine songs; hopefully, these guys can take time out of their respective schedules and cut another album like this some fine day.

Biography

Formed: Seattle, WA

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '00s

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...
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Makes You Look Around, The Tripwires
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