New Planet Trampoline

Dark Rides and Grim Visions

I’m the worst person to be attempting a review for New Planet Trampoline’s new release Dark Rides and Grim Visions. 1) It’s taken me weeks to write this. Poor Mara at Blown Speakers has asked me for it at least half a dozen times. Each time I get ready to send it, I read what I wrote, and immediately start over. Now Blown Speakers won’t get the scoop on this album. Hell, even Scene beat us to it. 2) I’ve been drinking the kool-aid on these guys for a long time. My fandom began indirectly sometime in 2003 or 2004. Any preconceptions of impartiality should be immediately forgotten. I’m sure this review will eventually contain a few witty phrases and unique adjective combinations, but first it’s story time kids…

Cleveland’s music scene full on tongued my ears in my mid-20s. An old friend of mine started playing with a band called the Dreadful Yawns. I fell in love with them, to say the least. Booking tours and signing record contracts eventually led to playing and touring with them. All along the way New Planet was right there. 4 of the 5 members of New Planet were the original Yawns line up. My appreciation of the Yawns always came with the headaches of logistics, van breakdowns, and touring. NPT, however, was like a favorite nephew. I could enjoy spending time with them as much as I wanted, without having to fight about artwork or budgets.

New Planet Trampoline released The Curse of The New Planet Trampoline back in 2004. At the time, I couldn’t believe that anyone I knew could have written and recorded such an adventure by themselves in a moldy basement in Lakewood. It was an incredible blend of Farfisa, harmonies, searing guitars, and tripped out bass lines. Totally different than the quiet twinkle of Yawns. New Planet’s The Blimps and Aeroplanes EP came out a year later and I was so certain that these guys were about to graduate to cocaine, hookers, and A&R guys. I had grand visions of New Planet getting signed, getting a booking agent, and dragging the Yawns on the road with them. You know, tour the world. Seriously. Completely engrossing, vivid daydreams…

It wasn’t to be…

Shortly before NPT broke up, they played live on a radio show I hosted. For nearly a decade those would be the only recordings I had of the “new” material they were working on at the time. NPT came back from a short tour and announced they were playing their final show. I was devastated.  It seemed certain that recordings of songs like The Nearly Finished Face, Haunted as Fuck, Birds and others would only exist on a drug addled, half-assed produced, college radio show.

Thankfully, that wasn’t to be…

That’s why Grim Visions is such a mind fuck for me. Almost half of the album consists of these incredible songs from a band I thought was in their prime 10 years ago on a college radio show. The other half of the album proves that I was wrong. They are only starting to hit their prime. Matt Cassidy’s guitar is just as ear shatteringly loud on record as it is live. Ben Gmetro’s Farfisa is punchy, melodic, whimsical, and haunting. Charlie Druesedow’s drumming is so spot on I don’t even remember what drummer joke I was gonna make, and that is some divine shit. Dave Molnar’s bass playing is as good a reason as any to put down your bass and become an accountant, because you’ll never be able to write bass lines like that.

I hesitate to say that NPT picks up right where they left off. Sure, a lot of these tunes made up their live set when the called it quits, but they sound better after marinading for a decade. The songs sound more confident, the performances more otherworldly, every aspect is amplified. The album is haunting, creepy even, if not for the sudden bursts of pop goodness that makes it feel like classic psychedelia, without the Freedom Rock tropes. Dark Rides and Grim Visions is a psychedelic swirling wave of crafted pop, thick harmonies, killer bass lines, and floating Farfisa. It’s disorienting and reassuring. It’s 420, brah.

Simply put, the album is a gleeful ride on a carnival train. The only thing more mind blowing is how NPT pulls it off live. There are few bands better live than NPT… maybe, just maybe, Brian Jonestown Massacre circa 1996… regardless, it’s a very short list.

Check them out at the Happy Dog West on 3/12. They are playing with nice person/face melting super group Hiram-Maxim and Detroit’s Sisters of Your Sunshine Vapour.

It’s $5 at the door, but bring a few extra bucks. You’ll need it for NPT’s Dark Rides and Grim Visions.

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