The Travoltas’ release self-titled LP


Crashing guitars, cascading melodies that run head-first into percussive buzz-saws and lyrical imagery that captures the essence of yearning and humility are all mere ingredients in the sweet smorgasbord of rich tonality that The Travoltas’ self-titled LP brings to the table this December 7th. Boasting fourteen original songs that push the limits of modern rock poetry well into the realm of contemplative surrealism, the Texas indie rockers’ latest release sparks up quickly with the trifecta of “I Can’t Say No,” the pensive “Snowball” and the blustery “Work of Art,” which set the stage for the colorful harmonies that are about to come seeping through our speakers one gilded note at a time.

A lot of the highlights from The Travoltas revolve around raw rhythms that are tempered under the nimble discipline of the music itself. “If You Could Be the Star” is so tightly wound that its chorus is almost anticlimactic in nature. Other songs like “Mail Ya to Australia” and “Blame My Baby” are a bit more streamlined, but the band never makes any attempt to smother the rough edges of their sound with a lot of needless production fluff. This is The Travoltas at their most lyrically vulnerable, but the music is relentlessly confident and vicious.

I like the way that “Tower of Strength” and “Ghost of Your Love” exemplify the chemistry of the band in slightly different ways. Where “Tower of Strength” puts the emphasis squarely on their unparalleled timekeeping abilities and overall cohesiveness, “Ghost of Your Love” demonstrates how adept they are at augmenting their more angular qualities to suit a sophisticated arrangement steeped in ascending melodies and marching grooves. The emotions constantly run high in this record, so much so that songs like “Making Out” and “Crying Shame” seem very personal and intimate, despite the boisterous fronts they put up.

The Travoltas have a minor love affair with Americana in this album that isn’t totally visible in initial listens but becomes impossible to ignore after several dedicated, uninterrupted study sessions. “Did I Lose You at I Love You?” has a very exotic construction, but at its core upholds a folky melody that feels somewhat weighed down by its lush rhythm. “I Can’t Say No” and “Mail Ya to Australia” are rootsy and reminiscent of traditional pop music, but once again their compositional makeup has an unmistakably American quality to it. The ultra-springy reverb on the guitar keeps the songcraft tethered to contemporary standards, but I’ve got no doubt in my mind that these guys are musicians who take the work of their forerunners quite seriously.

Rock fans young and old would be wise to pick up The Travoltas this month and see why critics have fallen hard for this Dallas band’s intriguing blend of timeless pop, punk ethos and striking tonality, the likes of which symbolize the integrity that still exists left of the dial even in these trying times. Western music has diversified substantially in the last ten years, and The Travoltas prove with this disc that they aren’t just rolling with the changes – they’re carving out their own iconic place in history, and dispensing some awfully good rock music in the process.


Gwen Waggoner