Trotsky Icepick

Poison Summer

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The first album made under the band name Trotsky Icepick was a masterpiece of wry, literate pop. The trio of Vitus Mataré, Kjehl Johansen, and John Frank was augmented by keyboard player Jamie Lennon, who added jazzy touches to compositions that layered harmonies and guitars with startling sophistication. Where the previous album, called Poison Summer and released by the same group under the name Danny & the Doorknobs, had a raw live sound, this one is a beautifully subtle product of the studio. Whether the sound effects that added intriguing double meanings to "Ivory Tour" and "Big Dreams" were added later by engineer Eric Westfall isn't mentioned, but he certainly did an excellent job recording this album in only two sessions. The lyrics have a bittersweet quality at times, especially on the haunting "Set Still the Time" and "Just the End of the World." Their later albums rocked harder and had more commercial potential, but on Poison Summer Trotsky Icepick hit a balance between drive and delicacy that is rare in pop music at any time and was extraordinary in a band which came from the L.A. punk scene. Note: The original LP of this album had beautiful graphics and was released on multicolored vinyl, which has made it something of a collector's item.

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