In 1995, little known band Tripping Daisy released their second album "I am an Elastic Firecracker" and it remains one of my top favorite albums. And though the band was categorized within the alternative genre, they can be better described as a neo psychedelic pop rock band. Unlike any other bands at that time, and still to this day, Tripping Daisy's sound is quite simply their own. There is much debate over which of their albums is best, most focusing on 1998's "Jesus Hits Like The Atom Bomb" but for me, they had perfected a very specific combination of psychedelia and pop with "I am an Elastic Firecracker".
|Album cover for "I am an Elastic Firecracker"|
It was also the first album where I discovered hidden tracks (at the end of the album there is a bonus story reading by Tim DeLaughter with music accompaniment entitled "Pink Jelly"). For me, nothing would be the same musically. I began to explore more and more music genres and losing my understanding of the popularity of standard pop music. I remember asking myself: Why would anyone want to hear the same junk when there's so much more out there to discover?
|Album cover for debut "Bill"|
Not long after I borrowed her copy did I start to hear their popular single "I Got A Girl" on the radio. And though it's a fun pop tune, it was nothing compared to the rest of the album.
"Elastic Firecracker" had something that other bands could never have: Tim, Wes, Mark and Bryan. It's because of these four gentlemen that the album sounds the way it does. They possess both technical and heartfelt talent. The epic 9-minute track "Prick" is a great example of a band in tune with each other's composition and emotional talent. Listening to Wes's innocent guitar intro to the song, you're almost not prepared for the loud, distorted guitar riff about to unleash. Added to that is Tim's laugh-yell of "Hey-hey-hey-ha-ha-ha" creating a somewhat feeling of mockery towards the protagonist of the story. And it's the mystery of the story that raises the song to a higher level. Though I could be wrong, my interpretation of the song is of a boy trying to understand the persistent drug use of his older brother. And with the older brother's childlike behavior, there is confusion as to who the story is truly about.
The track gathers momentum throughout the song and by around the 5 minute mark you're about to witness the sound of a guitar on speed. A visual of a young man running around in fast-forward enters my mind as Wes's guitar work takes flight. It's a perfect guitar solo for a song about addiction. And to their credit, his fellow bandmates don't try to compete but instead help support. And it's this instinctive behavior of the band that makes their music work so well.
|Wallpaper for "I am an Elastic Firecracker"|
Wes's work on this album is astonishing, which made it all that much worse when he was discovered dead from an overdose in October of 1999. Fortunately the band was able to record 2 more studio records (and some EPs) after "Elastic Firecracker" but sadly the band could not progress without Wes. A bold, respectful move from such a critically adored band. Instead the main trio (Tim, Mark, Bryan) as well as some of the future bandmates formed the band "The Polyphonic Spree" a 20+ group with the innovation of Tripping Daisy combined with sound of a psychedelic choir.
To my delight, it was recently announced that Good Records will be re-releasing Tripping Daisy's albums as well as previously unreleased tracks. For more details, click this link:
And for more information about Tripping Daisy, visit their official site here:
Official Memorial Site for Wes Berggren:
Official Site for The Polyphonic Spree:
Official Site for Preteen Zenith (Tim DeLaughter's new band):
TRIVIA: A book of stamps was included within the original packaging of the "I am an Elastic Firecracker" CD.