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Cover Your Tracks
by November Trials
Phat N Phunky Phonics (2005)
Cover Your Tracks
Okay, I'll admit it: I’m one of those guys who can’t help but read liner notes in albums. Lyrics be damned, I’m all about the tiny sidebar quotes and joking photo captions, the near-unreadable minutia and random tchotchky-comments that hint at the real personality behind the band. Think back to the tour letters from the Bouncing Souls’ self-titled album, the diary excerpts that litter Onelinedrawing’s The Volunteers, and the weird-ass quotes etched near the serial numbers of countless small-label vinyl releases. It’s a fun hobby, and the search for these little Easter eggs is a little like a scavenger hunt without a list—as such, you never really know what you may come across.

Hell, I’ll even settle for the prerequisite thank-you section, a standard of virtually every album released since the invention of the lyric sheet. Voyeuristic curiosity aside, this section is especially helpful when trying to expand one’s musical horizons: take a gander at your favourite band’s shout-outs, punch some names into Google, Last.fm, or your file-sharing program of source (avast, ye scurvy media pirates!), and away you go.

Again, you never know what you’re going to find. Odds are that most of the mentioned bands are so-so sound-alikes of the original artist in question, which may or may not itself be a sound-alike of still another artist. Such is life. But, every so often, you find something good—maybe even something great. Case in point: November Trials.

I’d both read and heard the November Trials name dropped a handful of times by my favourite quartet of Son José pop-rockers, Shinobu. This was usually accompanied by exclamations of “Niiiiice!” or other such vague but emphatic phraseology, leaving me with high hopes but no real idea of what to expect. Alas, the November Trials website was down for the count for quite some time; their early works were largely unavailable, even with the wonders of the Internet and its bevy of eShops and search engines at my disposal. Nevertheless, my interest remained piqued, if decidedly unsatisfied.

But a few days ago, I finally got my grubby little paws on a copy of November Trial’s 2005 album, Cover Your Tracks. Initially, I was a bit taken aback by what I heard—not necessarily in a bad way, mind you. Still, intro track “This Album is a Crow’s Nest” had more in common with Sharks Keep Moving/Minus the Bear’s tech-heavy pop-rock than with the spastic punk-ruckus I had come to expect from previous descriptions. As evidenced by the lead-ins to “Dance Dance Revolution” and “The Mask” (no lyrical relation to either the arcade game or the flaky Jim Carey flick), November Trials potentially has what one would consider “chops.” Well, make that chops in the vein of the Appleseed Cast, not Guns N’ Roses. Sorry, Slash-ites.

Notwithstanding their occasional bursts of neck-bending noodlery, Ian Silber and guest guitarist Tyler Van Hoomissen tend to stick with the tried and true mix of power chords and distortion, relegating their riffs and wails to the position of garnish. Drummer Max Feshbach keeps things moving at a manic pace, though the relatively low recording quality of Cover Your Tracks occasionally slurs his percussion into an aural blur of high-hat, crash, and toms.

Bassist Morgan Herrell lays down some throaty lines for tracks like the ruminatory “Snow Song” and the acerbic “Explosion: This Song is the Color Green.” Doubling as lead vocalist, Herrell switches styles from the airy croons of MtB’s Jake Snider to the speak-then-scream methodology of the Ghost’s Brian Moss, more often than not settling into gruff post-punk cries reminiscent of the Honor System’s Dan Hanaway:

“Plastic covered glass / and stickered walls. / These kids walking out will be / the pallbearers of the last / honesty in this place... / Silly rabbit, tricks are for kids, / with tricks like these, who needs friends?”

With seven songs and running at little under half an hour, Cover Your Tracks feels more like an EP than a standard release. Stylistically, it’s a veritable time capsule, a seemingly unintentional homage to notable turn-of-the-century acts like Cursive, the Broadways, Les Savy Fav, and Lifter Puller. While you’d be hard-pressed to call November Trials an “original” act, their patch and motley fusion of memorable rock elements and catchy punk-bred tunes is sure to strike a chord or three with fans of late-90s indie rock.

And don’t forget to read the liner notes.
Posted by: Tom Körp

Audio Reviews (July 5th, 2006)

Tags: audio, review, november trials, pteradon, cover your tracks, phat n phunky phonics


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