Strikingly creative, delightfully innocent, and unpretentious but not lacking in talent, the Travis Morrison Hellfighters' debut album, All Y'All, is a powerful introduction to a cool new band. Although this isn't Morrison's first rodeo. As the front man for the D.C. band, Dismemberment Plan, Morrison led the band toward unpredictable twists in style and sound between and within their songs. Not to mention the distinct Everyman timbre of Morrison's voice. The Travis Morrison Hellfighters seem, in many ways, to strive for a similar resolution, indicating that both bands are the product of Morrison's vision. There are, however, distinctive differences.
While Dismemberment Plan had a serious air about them, the Hellfighters seem to be more concerned with having fun. The vast majority of this record is up-tempo and in a major key, with the most notable exception being track four, "East Side of the River," which is a sentimental, bittersweet ballad that seems to be about the ravages of poverty.
Much of this disc is reminiscent of the early '80s dance/new wave sound with its bouncy bass lines and liberal use of old-school synthesizer sounds. Track three, "Catch Up," is a prime example of both, utilizing a harmonic minor synth-bass-line, giving it the slightly off-kilter sound of an Arabian dance-club jam. This is not to say that Morrison's music is in any way passe. On the contrary, his genre-bending and eclecticism are perhaps a natural evolution of the modern rock musician, who so often finds himself paralyzed by the wide array of styles and methods that are classified as "rock music." Speculation aside, I'll be bumping All Y'All at my next party.
March 14 with ReVolt ReVolt, 9 p.m., $3. Neurolux, 111 N. 11th, 208-343-0886.