I’ve got one of those nine to fives that nobody wants. It’s a tad back breaking, a bit demeaning, and a whole lot of ridiculous. But there was a time when small victories were won by the soul resurrecting activity that we called the “dock dance party.” These impromptu gatherings on the dock of the warehouse were momentary get downs and shimmy shakers that would take place whenever a real ass kicker of a song would scream out of the shitty PA. So if you can picture it, a bunch of dudes would bust a move to ? and The Mysterious’s “96 Tears” or EP’s “Don’t be Cruel” and when the shaking was done, we’d hang our heads and go back to the grind.
All of my dance partners have since moved on and all of their replacements are far too Stepford to shake a leg at work but I merely bring up this fond memory to find out if you’ve heard Milwaukee band The Trusty Knife? Wait. Better question. Have you seen The Trusty Knife?
The five-piece plays an influence heavy brand of jangle-y pop that remains unique. And trust me that’s not just because there’s an incredibly driving bassoon that weaves texture and a foundational groove to a lot of their songs. While cursory listens may call upon “garage” associations or classifications, they are too sophisticated to be labeled just so. After just a few listens my ears and The Trusty Knife started to feel like old friends as the sound peeled like an onion and the phrasing and vocals of lead singer Zach Pieper revealed Bowie-ified Lou Reed stirred with some spastic David Byrne, and the jingle of the guitar that strums over the groove heavy bass (and bassoon!) is reminiscent of‘ Maggie’s Farm”-ish Dylan. But all associations aside, this band’s music is super tight, fun, and my favorite thing to come out of Milwaukee in a while.
Every listen to their debut album can be turned into a dance party and even though the band may not think they make dance music, I’d find it pretty hard not to shake the plaster off of a body cast to songs like “Flash in the Pan” and “Now This Is Love.” The kids at Locust Street Days this past Sunday proved just that (sans body cast) as they bopped and pogo’d along to every audible sound like it was a 50’s beach party. Based on that aspect alone, they are now for me a “must see” band. They can be my fog lifter. Who needs dock dance parties when we’ve got The Trusty Knife?