Self-styled bouzouki-rock outfit Tri State Corner are due to release album number four (Changes is an EP) to an eagerly waiting fan base at the end of this month. With a vision focussed around the “Greek ukulele” and dropping some lyrics in their native tongue in amongst otherwise English-only tracks, the band have made a bit of a name for themselves, and deservedly so.
Hero is a good album in its own right, but with the added novelty of a bit of bouzouki it has that little something that most other don’t. What Tri State Corner have got right, though, is the balance. This isn’t a bouzouki album with rock trappings, it’s a rock album that happens to make good use of the plunky 6/8 string acoustic instrument. As such, don’t expect flamboyant bouzouki solos! The strength of the songs is that they would be almost as good without this instrument involved – you could replace most the parts with guitar. But the fact that it’s there, and that it works so well is great songwriting.
The tracks vary from mildly rocky to quite heavy, but they’re all good. In terms of subject matter, this is a concept album – indeed it’s the third part of a trilogy spun through Historia and Home. Their choice of topic is quite interested, and best described by the blurb:
In this trilogy, the story of a migrant is told, who in the past departed to a foreign country to seek good fortune and eventually found it despite all the adversities – a story that still takes place everywhere in the world today. The album Home is the continuation of this story and there the bands describes the adventures of the descendants in the present, how they experience the world, what moves them and how they deal with it – a reflection of themselves. The new album Hero now shows a critical outlook on the future and continues mentally what the previous albums provided as a basis.
It’s the music we’re here for, though, and after a first brief listen I was very much drawn in. At first paying attention to the bouzouki because, hey that’s what they’re known for, it didn’t take long before I was wrapped up in the rhythms, beats and licks. Opener, and lead single (see below), “Breaking News” isn’t a bad start and gives a good flavour of what’s to come. This is a “big” song, with a huge, emotive chorus.
It’s not the highlight of the album, though. It makes sense to release it as a single as it acts almost like an overture, but the best songs come later – “Save My World” and “Wanted”. The former has a great Middle Eastern feel to the intro courtesy of heavy bouzouki use and electric guitar tones. It’s gritty yet bright, and again has a great chorus which simply soars.
“Wanted” is more of a balls-out rock song where the bouzouki plays more of a backing role, and between this and “Save My World” you get both ends of the scale in terms of the band’s use of this signature instrument.
Like so many already-established acts that we encounter here at Moshville Times, Tri State Corner have caught me by surprise. Around for thirteen years, all those releases and this is the first time I’ve really listened to them. The fact that we have such a wealth of music coming in and yet something like this can still make me pause and pay attention says a lot about both this band and our rich scene as a whole.
On the strength of Hero, I can’t imagine fans of Tri State Corner’s earlier works being disappointed. In fact, I’m off now to see how they compare. And if, like me, you’ve not given them a chance before then there’s no better time than now.
Hero is released on 27th April