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The Long Awaited Twiddle: Plump Chapter 2

My car has always been covered in stickers. Always. Since I was 17 and drove a big nasty 1984 Monte Carlo. My car has always been a flag to my love of music and pretty much ensured I could never commit any major crimes with my car because I'm pretty easy to find.

So I'm sitting in traffic in sleepy Northern New Jersey yesterday. I drive a really bitchy twelve year old Volkswagen so I have to go two towns over to buy better gas or she runs like garbage. There is a nasty intersection that no one ever seems to comprehend the traffic pattern of (also known as "most of New Jersey"), so I am usually watching the cars around me in preparation for one of them to drive into me, and I happened to glance to my right. The dude in the car next to me is having a get down moment at the wheel, smiling like its the greatest day ever, and motioning to the back of my car. I roll down my passenger side window, and he rolls down his. I have no idea what this guy wants. He points to the back of my car (where I have a big green Twiddle decal) and yells "I'M LISTENING TO TWIDDLE RIGHT NOW!"

True Story. This has been happening to me a lot lately.

Twiddle was my first bridge into the jam scene. My husband had been trying like hell to get me to listen to them for about a year when I finally did, after the birth of our daughter when he was having a major moment to the song Lost in the Cold while we waited in our hospital room for the birth to occur. After that, I started to hear them more and more on Jam On when I borrowed my husband's car to go anywhere. They stuck with me. I wrote about it here last year, before I really understood the jam scene, before I fell completely down the rabbit hole, before I had started making hotel reservations in other states, chasing Twiddle songs.

My first Twiddle show was last year in CT at College Street. Ryan was absent and I was still really finding my feet in the jam scene that I never thought I would even be allowed entrance into. Despite all my honestly admitted preconceived notions about this scene and it's incredible musicians, I was there in determination to hear the songs I loved. I was not let down either. They played Lost in the Cold with the horns and I quite honestly lost myself. Mind you, I was about 4 Founders Breakfast Stouts in at this point and had danced myself into a frenzy. The West End Blend horns were accompanying and that total sound took me. The lyrics I had connected so well with were shouting out of my face and I was in tears. That was it. That was my moment. We'll come back to that...

I have been waiting for Plump Chapter 2 since. There had been some teasers in recent months at live shows that really infused that impatience so finally getting to sit and devour the album has been both relieving and exciting. I have to say, I'm both impressed and amused at how much the album travels from one to the next in such an interesting fashion. The same amazing elements are still present. Mihali's incredible vocals and soaring guitar, Gubb's body moving bass lines, Brook's persistent and flavorful drum style, and Ryan's outstanding and incredibly inventive keys...but it also feels like everyone had this little something hiding in their pocket on the first album that they are releasing now with a sly smile and a nudge.

First off, let's talk about New Sun. I love Brook vocals. I think the man has such a style. This might be my favorite song on the new chapter, but the others are growing on me fast as well. I just love his personal vibe. He infuses it into the songs he sings and it's such a feeling of gentle hope no matter what he is actually saying. He's like audible Xanax. I love it.

We got a sample of Moments a few weeks back in Stroudsburg, PA and I have been waiting on a recorded version since. This song smiles. Plus give me a steady reggae beat and I'm already hooked. That is my soul.  "A life without music can be lonely." Good lord, I don't think truer words were ever spoken and I feel like this is such an anthem for Twiddle fans new and old in general. Listen to the words. They tapped into us all and put the crowd vibe to music and our connection to one another in the moment. "And when it's time to return to the gloom, you know we shared a little moment". We did, we do. Every show. I had my first one in New Haven last year, and I continue to have one every time I see Twiddle. This is why we do this.

Orlando's is fantastic. It starts out chugging and purposeful. You really think you know what these guys are leading you into, but it changes rapidly. The changes are what make this song amazing. About 50 seconds in, the vibe shifts and turns in a different direction. It has a very Elton John, Funeral For a Friend sort of feel and that is incredible because I think that song is a damn masterpiece. Then it shifts again and chugging again with fantastic Gubb/Ryan tag teaming between the bass and the keys with the guitar coming in to join like synchronized dancers. This song is a really inventive jam journey all over the place until the vocals kick in around the four minute mark and you are dropped smack dab in the middle of everything awesome about Twiddle songs. This is one I am really excited to see live.

Make no mistake though, this is not all positive vibes and tales of hope and transition. There is a primal aggression leaking out of Twiddle and it's both exciting and delicious. You know where I am going with this. We need to talk about Juggernaut.

I am beyond impressed with Twiddle for their straight musicianship with this album, and it climaxes with this song. If I played this for anyone outside the Twiddle fan base, they would never know this was Twiddle and that is fantastic. Remove the keys, and this song could very easily have been playing at a hardcore show in a dark, seedy late 1990's New Jersey bar or Legion Hall show that I was probably at. This is the aggression we are all feeling, despite wanting to keep with the positive vibes and love that we know is in our hearts anyway. The fact is, a lot of us are PISSED OFF right now. We are watching the train we are on steaming full speed through a snow storm on missing tracks with no conductor. As much as we hold tight to one another and genuinely try and change this world with love, we still need to spit the nails we hold in our throats and this song is a perfect audible illustration of how that feels.

There is a radio edit for Five that I was not terribly keen on, but honestly that is just because the original version of Five is my absolute favorite Twiddle song for more reasons than I have fingers to count them. It's a song I truly love getting lost in and the cutting down on it takes that away. That being said, I am fully aware of what a radio edit is and it's purpose and the reasoning behind shaving it down. I am on the same wavelength with When it Rains It Pours. I like the new, full backing vocals but I liked the song itself better in it's original, organic state. I admire the risk, and I don't skip either track when they come on. I guess I'm just a purist. Maybe a little bitchy.

Essential Listening:

Orlando's - Like I said above, the changes are fantastic. The core of the song is everything Twiddle does well, but there are those really full and warm backing vocals there too. I can't wait to see this live because I foresee a strong crowd bonding moment with all those da da da da da's...

Nicodemus Portulay - Dude, the style of this song is such a transition. First, the vocals have a very Greg Graffin, later Bad Religion flavor injected in just slightly and it's really damn cool. The song itself maintains that steady chug groove but it changes rapidly in between in such a way that you are really on your toes as a listener. I like that. I like to see them flipping some tables over.

Drifter - It's Brook vocals. I am already in love. Beyond that though, it's a really cool feel and a steady, sexy groove. This is a driving song. This is a tapping the wheel, singing along, driving into the fog after a really confusing day just wanting to find yourself again. "Those who are lost can still be found". Truth, man.

This album was well worth the wait, in my opinion. The new material is both traditional Twiddle and a riskier Twiddle that I respect the hell out of. More than anything, I am crazy excited to see how these songs translate live. The wonderful musicianship that truly makes Twiddle the band they are is shining as bright as ever and it's truly a beacon for so many of us when we are lost. I can't really put into words properly what their music has done for me personally, but I know from conversations at shows and posts on forums that I am far from the only one.

If you are new to Twiddle, I encourage you to jump in, fully clothed, and immerse yourself. You can head on over to their website for tour dates, festival appearances, and more info on the new album. You can also get this on vinyl, which I fully intend to do. To all the other Twiddle fans, see you out there!


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