Thursday, March 11, 2010

Eric's Trip - Purple Blue - 1996

Belying the Sonic Youth redux implications of their band name, Halifax, Nova Scotia's Eric's Trip (the title of a track from Daydream Nation) were more the epitome of Superchunk's noise-pop aesthetic. On their third official album, Purple Blue, shades of Dinosaur Jr., Sebadoh, Eleventh Dream Day, Pixies and Sugar all creep in periodically, but that's merely in line with the sound of most '90s indie rock across the continent, from Seattle to Chapel Hill. The Rick White songs are definitive noise-pop: short, concise, and roughed-up with distortion and occasionally eruptions into the Neil Young style of guitar pyrotechnics favored by J Mascis, while the Julie Doiron songs have the quiet-loud-quiet dynamics and sweet sing-songy vocals favored by Kim Deal and company. This is not to say the band is derivative, but a cursory listen to Purple Blue should allow even an amateur musical historian to place this album in context. The only anomaly is the "medley" "Introduction into The...Parts 1 to 4," an ill-advised song suite that's in reality a muddled hodgepodge consisting of an opening blast of feedback followed by an acoustic ditty sung by White, a dreamy ballad sung by Doiron, a fuzz guitar and brushed drums shoegaze samba, and a slow-motion piano-dappled dreamscape, all tied together with smidgens of lackluster audience applause that only serves to confuse the listener, especially as it's the album opener. The remainder of the album sets forth the band's blueprint of psych- and noise-tinged anthemic pop with just enough dissonance and dynamics to keep the mosh pit moving. It spans the gamut from My Bloody Valentine-esque waltz-time dream pop like "Universal Dawn" to driving motorik like "Sixteen Hours" to rollicking stompers like "Spaceship Opening." It's a fine effort, and in reality not as formulaic as one might think. And with most songs around or under the three-minute mark, if one track doesn't inspire there will be another one just around the corner. It will be a shame if history doesn't remember Eric's Trip in the same canon as their more illustrious peers, but the U.S.'s little brother Canada often seems to get the short end of the stick. -AMG


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Hebridean Monty said...

John Peel used to play Eric's Trip a lot...I have a few of their songs scattered about on old cassettes of his show...need to check if they ever did a session.Thanks!

Travis K said...

Eric's Trip are one of my favorite bands to come out of that part of Canada. They have been a major influence on me musically over the years. I highly recommend their album, Love Tara, to anyone who has not heard it. They've put out a number of wonderful 7"s and EPs as well.

In response to Hebridean Monty's comment, Eric's Trip did indeed do a John Peel Session back in the fall of 1993. They performed the following four songs: Sickness, Red-Haired Girl, Lost and Float.

Andrew JBS Clark said...

Although they are often lumped into the "Halifax Explosion" with Sloan, Thrush Hermit, Jail, Super Friendz etc. Eric's Trip are from Moncton, New Brunswick.
Thanks for the review. I would love to hear their early Peel session. Thanks for alerting me to its existance.


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