written by: September 18, 2013
Album-art-for-Grin-by-TRAAMS Release Date: September 24, 2013


TRAAMS’ debut release, Grin, kicks into gear with the hypnotic “Swimming Pool.” The driving beat, a staple of the band’s sound, runs alongside an aggressive note hammered out on the guitar. As this note gives way to the melody and melodicas and soft vocals rise around it, the aggression seems to retain a calming effect.

“Swimming Pool” remains on this wavelength, never leaving the safety of the singular riff until the end of the song, which leaves a chill in the wake of the somehow aggressive calmness.

Grin has a notable punk influence. “Flowers” jumps in like a Sex Pistols song, with crunchy chords played over the thumping bass line, and tagged on the end of each section is a simple and violent riff.

It seems like TRAAMS crammed its post-punk peg through a pop music-shaped hole, and out came Grin.

Stu Hopkins’ vocals are wailed and warbly, like a British Isaac Brock. When he sings, “I don’t even know your number, you don’t even know my name,” the moment feels poached from Modest Mouse’s This Is a Long Drive for Someone With Nothing to Think About.

Each song on Grin is a nugget – a tiny peek into the artist’s mind. Most of the songs on Grin never break pace, but songs like “Demons” defy this safety and break pace in perfect ways. TRAAMS has carved a distinct sound from some rudimentary elements, and it doesn’t waste any time putting these sounds and feelings on display. No song lasts longer than three minutes, except for the outliers of Grin, “Head Roll” and “Klaus.”

“Head Roll” moves into much sweeter territory than the majority of Grin, though the distinctly more melodic song still retains the edge found on the rest of the album. It also contains Grin‘s only guitar solo, which has a neatly fitting, Neil Young-esque feel. There is a relatable feeling to “Head Roll,” and the entire album, for that matter.

“Klaus” may also reach seven minutes, and contain an “I’m only going to hit five notes” style solo, but its a tour de force that wraps up Grin in a killer way. It’s a song that deserves to be played as a show-ender.

A heavy, rock-n-roll type riff dominates the song and the distinctive vocals follow it exactly, serving to thoroughly drive the riff into listeners’ brains. Thusly does TRAAMS elicit the Kraut-rock title.

TRAAMS’ groovy/angry feel is sure to attract attention, especially with its debut coming through Fat Cat records. Grin has its own touch, and even with the basic guitar, bass, and drums setup, it stands out.

However, a second album of the same ilk may not be as exciting. On “Hands,” Hopkins asks, again and again, “How long? How long?” Our question is this: How long will TRAAMS remain on this wavelength? What sort of lasting power does Grin have beyond its feel-good merits?

TRAAMS – Grin tracklist:

  1. “Swimming Pool”
  2. “Demons”
  3. “Flowers”
  4. “Head Roll”
  5. “Fibbist”
  6. “Reds”
  7. “Sleep”
  8. “Grin”
  9. “Hands”
  10. “Loose”
  11. “Klaus”