Band photo of Jointpop by Sam Sheppard.
A review of Jointpop’s To Trinidad with Love (May, 2018), by Mark Lyndersay.
There’s a persuasive sense of assuredness in the new Jointpop album that’s at once defiant and playful, the work of a band and composer confident in their game and their ability to play it.
Let me jump back a bit in time to the first time I saw Gary Hector on a stage.
It was at one of those “rock shows” a few decades ago, a Guitar Wars thing at the long shuttered Deluxe Cinema, now better known as Club Zen.
Young men got up to shred their axes viciously, most in shameless imitation of much better musicians.
Then Gary Hector plugged in and proceeded to do a most unusual thing. He played songs. Odd, quirky things with a distinctly Caribbean tone and perspective that just happened to be driven by sharp, clear, sweetly chiming electric guitar.
Official video for Dream Hard from The Pothounds,
Flash forward now to two weeks in Barbados six years ago. The car I was driving just happened to have a CD of Jointpop’s The PotHounds in it and I shoved it in, expecting the boss lady to give me an admonishing frown.
Instead, she smiled and said, “Hey, I like that.”
So it became our music for a fortnight and I swear, I can’t drive through the low limestone berms that bracket so many highways in Barbados without thinking of songs from that album or listen to the album without remembering walking through the overgrown ruins of Sam Lord’s Castle with tufts of green gently swaying in the breeze.
If life is like a movie in the Caribbean, then Jointpop is probably the best candidate for authoring its soundtrack, an effortless merging of Caribbean backbeats and the influence of countless hours of listening to American Top 40 on the weekend with a radio tuned just loud enough to hear but not loud enough to annoy the parentals.
Despite my sentimental attachment to The Pothounds, the album that I’m fondest of doesn’t seem to be officially available in their online catalog.
I don’t know how you even find Exile, Baby anymore, and despite some cheesy audio gimmickry involving phone noises, it’s a benchmark album for me, though I haven’t heard all the albums yet, and that’s my loss right there.
There’s something enormously appealing about Hector’s yearning croon on the introduction of Not for Sale before it crashes into the bruising rock number that’s my favorite on that album.
Official video for Amplify off From Trinidad with Love
There’s something of that unabashed sentimentality on Silly Old Me (Silly Old You) on the new album, a delightful little ditty that has no business being as seductively engaging as it is.
If you’re looking for influences in From Trinidad with Love, good luck with that. Silly Old Me sounds like an undiscovered early McCartney song performed by Elton John after he discovered he could rock hard when Davey Johnstone joined the band for Don’t Shoot Me.
I could play this shell game of “it sounds like” for a long time with this album, searching for the threads that inform a still surprising diversity of music packed into an absurdly short album. Something that’s long been Jointpop’s signature approach.
Most Jointpop albums fall short of an hour.
They swat you in the face with one thing, kick you in the ribs and shins with very different things and then hit you a hard calpet on the way out. So fast that you don’t know what hit you.
You’ll find an absurd range of approaches on this new album from the band, from the mournful bar-closing requiem, I Miss Me to the archly arrogant The World’s Most Interesting Man.
The synth-driven Amplify, the first single and video off the album, is as sharp-edged and modern a work of rock music as you’ll find anywhere. The jam sounds at once modern and relevant, with brisk bursts of lyrical wit bubbling up over the mix.
What to say about the casual, measured funk of Vienna Moon, with it’s soaring, cynical chorus?
Trying to figure out Jointpop from a single song is like trying to understand Trinidad and Tobago with a bake and shark from Maracas.
The band’s nervy excellence and Gary Hector’s easygoing role as conduit between the shared engagements of his generation and beyond it really demand far more attention that they get.
Official video for The New Fast Food Music from Exile, Baby
It’s hard to imagine just how focused these no-longer-young men must be to keep that fire burning across more than three decades and still turn up the heat again for people who weren’t even born when they first decided to play a tune.
It’s as if they never bothered with that whole “hope I die before I get old” nihilist bullshit and just pressed on with getting it right on an album.
Which they’ve done far more often than they haven’t. And still do.
From Trinidad with Love is available only as a digital download from the usual sources, but don’t just park it on your nearest MP3 player. Get it on a mobile device and take it out for a tour of T&T. You’ll understand the music, and possibly the country, a whole lot better.
Gary Hector ( Vocal,Guitar)
Damon Homer ( Guitar)
Dion Camacho ( Drums)
Phil Hill ( Keyboards,Backing Vocals )
Jerome Girdharrie ( Bass )
For From Trinidad with Love: Paul Kimble ( Backing Vocals, Rat Fuzz Bass on Track 3 , 12 string Electric Guitar on Track 4)
Produced by Paul Kimble
Recorded at Studio 303 UTT/NAPA, Trinidad and Tobago.
1. The World’s Most Interesting Man
3. Beauty On A Budget
4. Berlin Belle
5. The Blessed Ones
6. Give Me Life (Give Me Love)
7. The Misunderstood
8. Rear-View Mirror Love
9. Vienna Moon
10. Silly Old Me (Silly Old You)
11. I Miss Me
Official video for Simply Beautiful from Quicksand (also on the EP This is RadioTnT)
Walt Lovelace’s experimental video for Camden Ketchup from The Longest Kiss Goodnight
Mark Lyndersay is a photographer and writer living and working in Trinidad and Tobago.
The first album her persuaded his mother to buy was The Best of the Guess Who. The second was Band of Gypsys.
His writing about technology is found at TechNewsTT and his photography is here. A long running series of photo essays, Local Lives, considers T&T culture and its Carnival.
He has covered Trinidad and Tobago’s Carnival celebrations for the last four decades. He writes a weekly column for NewsdayTT and contributes to Caribbean Beat.
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