Ruckus and The Trousers
Anyone who's ever lived in a college dorm has probably played in a band like this, even if just for a few minutes. Ruckus and The Trousers is a newer local trio, playing a timeless style of jangly, upbeat guitar pop that carries hints of everything from The Beatles to early Talking Heads to, perhaps, Squeeze -- yet with that collegiate, slightly jammy flavor.
Steering this ship with his reedy tenor is Brandon Gorelli, singing wistful, narrative songs about relationships and other bric-a-brac -- pretty much anything, so long as it's slightly humorous and rhymes quite a bit. On "Open Up Those Eyes," the second of nine songs on Cartoon Lightning, he sings: "She grew up on Broadway, that's what all the girls say / Lived in a cul-de-sac, no way she's going back."
Joining Gorelli are Eli Bonello on bass and Eric Bono on drums, an understated rhythm section that provides support for Gorelli's clean guitar and occasional piano lines, and keeps the songs moving forward in an economical fashion. There are exceptions to this generally earnest sound, though -- for example, the spacious weirdness and odd structure of "Bad Hair Day." Additionally, a trio of guest musicians provide cello, banjo and backing vocals on select songs.
One of the album's best performances, however, probably goes to the man in the booth: Preslav Lefterov at local Machine Age Studios. Lefterov manages to blend the cute, folksy elements with more ambitious musical moments in a way that highlights both the band's surface innocence and its instrumental guile.