John Butler Trio, a band that defies genres (as they are equally reggae as they are alternative and as equally pop as they are rock), has been around since their emergence in the late 90s. With Bryon Luiters and Nicky Bomba, John Butler completes a very talented three-person band that’s steadily gaining popularity, mostly through internet fame. The band creates a sort of breezy, alternative rock sound much in the style of State Radio and Barenaked Ladies, except the speed of Butler’s delivery showcases more of an original sound than his contemporaries.
Last year, one of my friends showed them to me, and with it happening to be the Sunrise Over Sea album, I immediately loved the beat and pace of their material. From quick guitar patterns in Bound to Ramble and Company Sin to slower, more ballad-like songs like Seeing Angels and What You Want, Sunrise Over Sea was one of my frequented summer albums between my freshman and sophomore years here. When I found out through Facebook that the band was releasing a new album, I was immediately excited. This is yet another album that will easily be a part of my summer, because it’s just one of those albums that you put in the car and cruise to.
The new album is called April Uprising, conveniently released on the sixth of April, and with it comes an expansion of sound for the band. Since their older albums, they’ve gotten better at guitar (even though it would be hard for them to do better) and they’ve gotten “poppier” with come of their material. That’s the only problem I had with the album. It speaks greatly to a younger audience when I think their genre and older material speaks much more to adults. The two songs that show this, and the only two songs on the whole album that I even mildly disliked, were C’mon Now and Johnny’s Gone. The rest of the album, on the contrary, is a huge success.
Revolution, the first song on the album, is what I would call one of the singles. Taking a political standpoint, as so many Alt-Reggae musicians do, the song preaches a revolution to take back what America’s citizens lost in the war: lives. One Way Road, the second of my prescribed singles, is a very vocally fast and sounds like it would be amazing live. Amidst a semi-pop sound is this overcoming tale of someone who doesn’t want to be nobody, subsequently how conformity is a “one way road”. The last “single” (as the album wasn’t released to airwaves for this band to have any singles), Close to You, showcases a moderately technical sound with guitar reminiscent of 70s style. Obviously a love song, as are many of John Butler Trio’s songs, Close to You has a really interesting African drum and guitar solo toward the middle, showing off the band’s apparent practice and diversity. Three other songs that stood out are: Steal It (for its chilled out bass-driven ballad quality),I’d Do Anything (another politically-based song about our soldiers; particularly the ones in love), and Fool For You (also for its chilled out, trance-like beginning that develops into a fast-paced ballad, and in my opinion, encompasses the style of the entire album). So, if you’re looking for a new sound, check out John Butler Trio’s new album, April Uprising.