On their first long player, Urochromes complement their catchy-as-fuck punk bangers with colorful experimental rock that choogles forth like the waters of the Mississippi River Delta where it was recorded. There are classic Urochromes chargers like first single “Hair So Big” and the catchy kiss-off “Millieux” that pair Dick Riddick’s concise and explosive guitar playing with some of frontman Jackie “Jackieboy” McDermott’s best sketches of uptight, paranoid characters on the edge. “Rumshpringa” plays it straight with a beautiful slow-burning riff and soul-searching lyrics (”When do I get my Rumshringa?... / I want to lean back in time like that Tower of Pisa”); it’s a new Urochromes classic where Riddick’s licks spark and lilt through the bridge toward the closing verse’s poignant refrain. These more restrained, contemplative moments balance out the uninhibited tenacity of the rest of the album—not something every (punk) band is capable of achieving when they jump to the LP format. Combining the authentic sound of Gary Wrong’s Jeth-Row Studios with the engineering talents of longstanding Urochromes engineer Will Killingsworth (Dead Air Studios), Trope House delivers the most hi-fidelity Urochromes recording to date without sacrificing any spontaneity or raw power.
Our take: It’s hard to believe that this is the first Urochromes full-length. The band looms large because of their distinctive sound, but this is the first time they’ve given us a stand-alone 12” release that doesn’t compile tracks from previous releases. I’m not sure what the word on the street is, but to me Trope House is a masterpiece, one of the most distinctive, forward-thinking, and exciting punk records of the present era. While punk is still groggily emerging from the retro binge of the 00s, Urochromes sound like no other band I’ve ever heard in my life. They are a hardcore punk band in that they play fast most of the time, but like the best “outsider” hardcore bands (early Meat Puppets, Crucifucks, Spike in Vain, etc.), they come to hardcore naturally, not by emulating other musicians but by groping for the perfect form to express their agitation. Trope House sounds like you’re playing some classic art rock record by Roxy Music, glam-era Eno, or early Peter Gabriel on 78RPM. Each track is a whirlwind of virtuosic drum machine programming, layers of chaotic lead guitar, and Jackie’s distinct vocals and lyrics (the chorus for the first track goes, “oooh oooh that’s my millieux”). Strangely, there are three covers on the record (the Lemonheads, Bikini Kill, and the Leather Nun), but I didn’t even realize that until I looked at the insert because the songs are warped beyond recognition. I don’t think I’ve given you any sign what Trope House sounds like, because it doesn’t sound like anything else that I’ve heard. However, if you pride yourself on knowing the most out there and progressive punk rock, you need to hear this immediately.