Music We Love: "Trickle Down" by Jesus Chris + the Beetles
First, I think it’s important to know that I listened to this album religiously for three days. I did this not only because I think Trickle Down is good, but moreover, I knew I would catch something I liked on the next listen that I missed the previous time. I always did, and felt more enchanted by the talent and thought in Jesus Chris + The Beetles’ music. JC+TBs' blend of punk and noise offers up some big sound and induces heavy sentiments. The literal feeling of the music weighing on you is something very special about their music. You can’t miss it anywhere. I’ve been to a few of the band’s shows, and you see this relationship between the band and its fans. There’s a warmth that comes with their music that moves everyone in an eccentric way. Particularly, this album reinforces that style in an overpowering, intense yet sincere sense. It is unconventional but staunch in fervor. I wish I could write about every single song and explain everything I hear and feel. Sadly, that would only make this review too long, but also, I’m sure I would miss many elements that are incorporated in this album. In that spirit, I advise everyone to listen to it and interpret it for yourself. It’s musical, strange, funny at times, and just invigorating. I guarantee you will enjoy at least one song. Here are some of the ones I suggest giving a go.
Love Is Degrading: This song, fourth on the album, I can only describe as thoughtful and almost intellectual. It’s organized in such a way that makes me wonder how it even works, yet it does. They pull it off so incredibly well. If you’re going to listen to any song from this band to try and understand them, I suggest this one. From beginning to end, there are different patches of varying tones and sounds. Every patch is a part of this colorful JC+TB quilt and shows an assortment of everything them. This song does everything in its power to amplify the title. There is so much going on that is beautiful, scary, angry, and sad, which serves as a perfect representation of the topic. The band provides a compelling and interesting instrumental with classic rock 'n’ roll sounds blended with intriguing warp noises that add so much to the sound. The lyrics to this track are moving in their own way, and lead vocalist Robinson Marlin interprets them in his distinct, in-your-face way.
Let’s Make the World a Better Place: The fifth track on the album starts off fast with no buildup, immediately making its point. This song shows an honest pain with gorgeous instrumentals. What makes this song special to me is JC+TB's ability to make a song that screams “I want you to know Jesus don’t love you” so artistic. They do this by using spacey noises, with a muffled Marlin telling us “You should feel bad feel bad feel bad feel bad about what you do” in the beginning. Toward the middle, you hear the repeated grunting of a very pained man seemingly being forced to do something or being hurt in some way. After this, a very drained Marlin repeats the "you should feel bad" lines before leading into the climactic deliberation that Jesus don’t love you. It is this degree of organization that gives the song its impact.
Tryin’: The third track on the album serves as a vast contrast to the rest of the songs on the album. It's a sweet and somber ballad that tells a sad love story. The track has a very classic-rock, "love song with a Cadillac on the beach music video" type of feel. It is a softer Rob showing his contained singing ability, telling his love he made mistakes and that he can see “no one loves me like you do.” This song may seem strange juxtaposed with every other song on the album, but it truly shows just how talented they are even in a different form. The track tells listeners that they are capable of a soft ballad, but just because they can does not mean they have to. This song further reinforces their skills and true understanding of music. For some, it can be a nice break from the fast and upbeat other tracks.
Trickle Down: The namesake of the album is second to last, and begins with a simple guitar strum that tricks the listener into not expecting what’s to come. Abruptly after this, all instruments join in with a large sound and Marlin exclaiming, “I got a pocket full of cash!” The beginning of the track goes back and forth between a chill and slow instrumental and the larger sound whenever Marlin belts out another line. Eventually, the sounds blend together into something else when Marlin gets on his soapbox to say, “It’s not about the money baby, it’s about the principle.” I like this track as the title of the album because at first, I didn’t realize how much of a gem it was. It is clever, dark, and draining. Once again, a thing that JC+TB is so good at is patching together different tones, tempos, and twangs to somehow still make a whole song. This song is just another example of this. The glorious line that leads into the point of the track is “If I can’t buy your love, then I’ll have to embezzle, and let it trickle down.” It’s one of those lyrics that stops you in your tracks wondering how anyone could say something so cool. It’s so smart and meaningful and allows entry for Marlin to repeat “let it trickle down” numerous times, fading out into a more tired and sad tone as the song ends over helicopter sounds.
This album is a valuable follow-up to their debut album, Love Songs from the Slime World. Their first album was already great and left me wondering how a band could get any more intense and raw. Trickle Down proves this in song after song. It is raunchy, it is real, but it is also beautiful and smart. Each member of this band holds obvious power in their craft, a pure comprehension of what music is and what they can do with it in their own way. They have used popular and knowingly beautiful sounds and music, destructed it, built up from there, and threw in their own dissonant spices. Their masterful ability to switch between compelling ideas and still make it smooth to an extent is something I think is very important to note (as I have several times). This album is great to jam out and lose yourself to, as you can see their fans do at all their shows. They make music that allows for this, but still leaves room to be artistic and thoughtful. For some, this band isn’t so palatable. This album may not be for you, but that doesn’t take away from its beauty and may even add to it. It is unique in its own way, and if you look at in the way I did, you can see why it is so friggin’ cool and worth something for so many.