Tribella is another band that Why Make Clocks shared a local bill with that I quite enjoyed. They’re from Austin but something in their sound says California to me — San Francisco perhaps, or someplace on the West coast but just far enough north to get just a touch of Pacific Northwest melancholy, but not enough to succumb to it.
I might get some flak for this reference, but one thing that comes to mind for me is Don Henley’s 1984 hit “The Boys Of Summer” — ignoring a couple perfectly awful cover versions that have come out in recent years. Keeping in mind that I was nine years old at the time, the spacious tapestry of the guitars on that song, and somewhat also on its album-mate “Sunset Grill,” sounded fresh and exciting to me then, and made those songs sound as if late-summer California sunsets were soaked into all the spaces between the notes; even though I’d never been to California, I felt like I was experiencing them through the music. Tribella have that same type of magic-hour feel, a lot of it coming from Sarah Glynn’s guitar, which sounds like a different painter’s rendering of those same sunsets, and this along with her vocals, just slightly hushed but sure of what they’re saying, do a lot toward making these shimmery, ethereal power-pop gems, wrapped around smart lyrical meditations on relationships both personal and socio-political, feel affectingly poignant.
The title track from Tribella’s earlier EP My Guest List re-appears on Thirteen, and a fine song it is, well deserving of the second shot at ears, even though it’s already beginning to sound like the product of an earlier Tribella. Dana Gerbrecht’s drumming seems to have tightened up on the new stuff, certainly enough to keep a 13/8 meter going throughout the title track with seeming effortlessness, and there are some newly prominent progressive and jazz influences heard in the songs, though still delivered with the same low-key folksy personality they had when I saw them the first time. The electo-fied dance remix of “My Guest List” tacked on the end of the album is unnecessary and a little bit annoying, but that’s about the only negative thing I can think of to say about Thirteen.