Fort Wayne has its fair share of “hardest working folks in showbiz” types. The music scene is less individual bands keeping to themselves than a bunch of bands that are made up of people in other bands. Some last, some are here and gone before your beer buzz fades from seeing them the night before. How long they last doesn’t really matter, though. What matters is the quality of the work. What matters is the songs and the spirit and just the general chutzpah put into all these different projects, short-lived or in for the long haul need not matter. I’d attempt to name all these side projects, but there’s not enough ink. I’ll just say this, Fort Wayne is a hotbed of interlocking songwriters, musicians, artists, and bigger than life personalities that make sure the music fan will never be bored. There’s something in the Allen County air that seems to cultivate creativity. In fact, before I’m done typing this sentence there will probably be 4 more bands formed in the 07.
One of those prolific, band and genre-hopping folks dispersing verses and riffs like a pied piper of tunes in the Fort is Jared Andrews. Andrews has been playing around town for years now, with bands like Elephants In Mud, The Meat Flowers, and Microwave Miracles to name a few. He seems like a guy that loves music, period. There’s no certain name brand or genre hat this guy likes to wear all the time(though he does like hats.) A couple months ago Andrews put out his most recent solo album called I Wanna Be Your Cartoon. It’s a fun album mixed with the right amount of silliness, sincerity, and just a touch of creepiness. But even before the codes could be cracked on that we’re looking down the barrel of a brand new band and album featuring Jared Andrews. Trophy Club is the name of the Fort Wayne supergroup that consists of Andrews, Void Reunion’s George Gardner, The Snarks’ Zach Kerschner, and drummer Cale Gerst. Sports Cars, Trophy Club’s debut album, does resemble Andrews’ past work, but this is very much a band in the truest sense.
Sports Cars opens with “The Trophy Club” which seems like a pretty cool place to hang out, as George Gardner sings “Where everything’s gonna be alright/ Where everything shines like gold/Where you can be a winner in our eyes/ In the Trophy Club”. It’s pop melancholia that is a nice way to enter the world of Trophy Club. This opening track sees Gardner, Andrews, and Kerschner all taking a verse, which is something you don’t hear all that often anymore. “The Man From Parts Unknown” has a Specials vibe, while “A Ghost Eating Life Cereal” sounds like the start of a Steven Wright joke, but its surprisingly more earnest than the title would seem. “You cannot escape the ghost” turns to “You cannot escape your ghost”. There’s something ominous about that.
Trophy Club took these tunes to Jason Davis’ Off The Cuff Sound for Davis to add his sonic expertise and studio prowess to these songs, which he does very well. There’s a heaviness to these songs that may have been missing had the guys gone a more DIY route. “Sports Cars” is one of the best tracks here and the low end definition and keys here give the song a whole other dimension. There’s an early Weezer vibe that makes the song quite the ear candy. “Ice Cream Dance” is another standout. There’s a familiarity to the background guitar, but I can’t quite place it. Lyrically it’s a bit haunting. “Oh, Lord – I’m sorry for my sinful ways/Stay up all night and sleep for 3 days/ Sorry that I see the beauty in life/And try to open it up with a rusty knife” Andrews sings as the song moves along in a deceptively simple manner. “Electric Blanket” is a is a sweet song that lyrically seems to be a “come to Jesus” moment for someone who can’t stop being a screw up long enough to see the forest for the trees. The song ends on an instrumental note.
Trophy Club’s Sports Cars is a short and sweet album that is filled with fractured pop songs about the disenfranchised, broken-hearted, and those that just can’t seem to catch a break. So they’re songs for you and me.