The term “three chords and the truth” only goes back about three or four decades, being mentioned, among other places, in the U2 concert film Rattle and Hum. But it’s a term that feels much older than that, suggesting a no-frills ethos in roots rock and earlier Americana genres, one that focuses on hard living and the cathartic release that comes with rock and roll and honky-tonks.
The band Junkyardfieldtrip has a fittingly country-fied name for this sort of music, which is also the name of their new self-titled record released through the Spectra Music Group. The album mines a familiar, comfortable vein of country root rock, but at the same time taps into various other genres over its nine track run.
The album stakes it claim to the heartland rock genre early on, with the energetic track “Dusty Radio” giving a reference to Pontiac, Michigan. That song is notable for its alternative rock motifs and electric guitar, as most of the other tracks that comprise the record’s first half take it a bit more slow. “Mercy” is a restrained little number that uses acoustic strumming, honky-tonk piano, and the weathered voice of lead singer Mike Gladstone to build a wonderful mood of melancholy. “Blind,” the second tune on the album, brings out the band’s bluegrass side with sonorous fiddles through most of it.
In “Collide,” around the midpoint of the album, Gladstone’s world-weary, bemused tone brings to mind Tom Petty, leading into the record’s best chorus and some zydeco-esque accordion. The band seems to look to 80s rock for inspiration as well as to country, as the next song “Sometime Never” can attest to. The track is quite different from the rest of the disc, as it introduces chilly synthesizers, thumping bass, and vocal effects that wouldn’t be out of place in something by The Cars.
Like many good post-punk songs, “Something Never” combines genuinely sad lyrics with playful and poppy instrumentation to great effect. It’s a bit of a departure from the more laid-back tone of its fellow songs, but it’s a highlight nonetheless.
Junkyardfieldtrip founded back in 2014, and has been gaining popularity in New York since. As this record has a little bit of something for everyone, it’s more than worth checking out.