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Trachtenburg Family Slideshow Players - Vintage Slide Collection from Seattle Vol. 1


Review: Jack Foley

IMAGINE the following... Wayne Coyne, of the Flaming Lips, deciding to have a drunken get-together with the cast of Sesame Street, the lead singer of the B-52s, the lead duo from Dumb and Dumber (during their road trip) and Austin Powers - and have you're probably somewhere in the right neighbourhood for what to expect from the Trachtenburg Family Slideshow Players.

Vintage Slide Collection from Seattle Volume 1 has to rate as one of the most offbeat, oddball, off-the-wall and totally surreal albums of recent memory, taking kitsch to new levels and beyond.

At best, it's a curiosity record. You feel compelled to listen to it, because it's just so weird.

But beyond that, it's hard to imagine how it will appeal to anyone but the most ardent fan of experimental music.

Lead singer, Jason Trachtenburg, attempted to become a singer-songwriter in his own right for several years without much success, until he happened upon some old movie slides and decided to base some songs around them.

Together with his wife, Tina, and nine-year-old daughter, Rachel (on drums and backing vocals), Jason then began composing bouncy pop harmonies around the slide show collections he had collected from family and business mementos from the fifties, sixties, and seventies.

The result provided the band with a unique live experience, which they took on the club circuit, selling out several New York venues, and even landing a slot on Late Night with Conan O'Brien.

And now we have the album, featuring such tracks as Fondue Friends in Switzerland, Mountain Trip to Japan, 1959 and What Will The Corporation Do?

But while there is a certain aloof charm to several of the records, courtesy of the bouncy beats, Ben Folds-inspired pianos, and guitars, the album wears thin pretty quickly, and is just so darn sweet as to become sickly - particularly during Rachel's backing vocals, when the album assumes one of those Sesame Street sing-alongs.

Take European Boys, for example, which kicks off with the line, 'European boys, European boys, European boys looking for sausage', before Rachel lets out a risible dog howl.

Or the six-minute rock opera that is Believing in You - both are examples of times the family can't seem to reign themselves in, which quickly offsets the sporadic joy of tracks such as the rock-driven Eggs, and the short, snappy, What Will The Corporation Do?

So while the album may start out to put a smile on your face, it simply becomes too eccentric for its own good, and listeners may find themselves scowling come the end.

As with most families, I guess, this is best left in small doses.

 

 

Track listing:
1. Mountain Trip To Japan, 1959
2. European Boys
3. Fondue Friends In Switzerland
4. Eggs
5. Opnad Contribution Study Committee Report, June 1977
6. What Will The Corporation Do?
7. Wendy’s, Sambos & Long Johns Silver’s
8. Let’s Not Have The Same Weight In 1978 – Let’s Have More
9. Why Did We Decide To Take This Decision To You?
10. Together As A System We Are Unbeatable
11. Believing In You

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