The Trypes

Music for Neighbors

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The Trypes' 1984 EP The Explorer's Hold was one of several records featuring Glenn Mercer and Bill Million of the Feelies that emerged during the six-year gap between the Feelies' brilliant debut album, Crazy Rhythms, and their more pastoral follow-up, The Good Earth. Like the recordings by Yung Wu and the Willies that also featured Mercer and Million, most fans regarded the Trypes' EP as a side project or a holding action, created while the Feelies sorted out their next move. However, this was a significant distance from the truth -- the Trypes were a band that existed before Million and Mercer were welcomed into their lineup, and while they broke up after Mercer and Million reassembled the Feelies (and took bassist Brenda Sauter and drummer Stan Demeski with them), the founders of the group would soldier on with their new band, Speed the Plow. The Trypes released a mere five songs during their lifespan (the four tracks from The Explorer's Hold and one contribution to a compilation), but the collection Music for Neighbors gives a clearer and fuller perspective on the group's short but remarkable history. Along with the Trypes' official catalog, Music for Neighbors includes 13 unreleased demos and live recordings, and while the bonus material lacks the relative polish of The Explorer's Hold, in many respects it's more challenging and every bit as powerful. Like the Feelies, the Trypes were fascinated by repetitive, minimalist structures, but their use of harmony vocals and woodwinds, along with their tendency to favor keyboards over guitars, gave them a significantly different aural palette, and the modal textures and cyclical melodies suggest a meditative trace rather than the geeky frenzy of the early Feelies. (It's worth noting that the Trypes were clearly fond of George Harrison's Indian-influenced works, as both "Love You To" and "The Inner Light" are covered here, since their own music sometimes suggests an American take on Indian musical frameworks.) Listening to Music for Neighbors, one hears an intelligent, visionary band gamely exploring territory far outside the traditional boundaries of rock music, and what they found was often adventurous and quite beautiful; the great disappointment of the Trypes' body of work is that there isn't more of it, but as an unwitting jumping-off point for Speed the Plough and the second act of the Feelies' career, this album works as indie rock archaeology, and also as the reclaimed legacy of a group more significant than most listeners may have realized.

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