Nestled amongst the serene pastures and woodlands of Northern California’s upper Bay Area, the sleepy city of Santa Rosa isn’t exactly a household geographic name. Shamefully, the vibrancy of its musical scenery is also relatively under the radar. While I’m sure some folks like their native secrets kept under tongue, when dealing with such inspirational enclaves, I tend to feel inclined to spread the good word.
Over the years, the collective members of the New Trust have all played their part in keeping their local arts community afloat. They’ve ran record labels, toiled away in countless bands, played host to punk-minded pseudo-orphanages, magnetized touring acts, so forth and so on. With the grass roots torches still ablaze, the four of them now live together in a quaint little duplex on one of downtown’s lesser-known tree-lined streets. It’s not the typical band house type ordeal. There’s no piss bottles, all night ragers, or interfamilial fist fights. On the contrary, it’s the type of evolutionary living situation that all of us semi-counterculture dirtballs could hope to gracefully grow into. Josh Staples (vocals, bass) and Sara Sanger (guitars, vocals) are married and have a couple of cats. Matthew Izen (guitars) and Julia Lancer (drums) are not romantically involved, but they live upstairs and also have a cat. More importantly, while the real world continues to offer up its sugar-coated brand of arsenic, all four members, despite being relatively strapped, remain diligently committed to an ethos of productivity, progression and protest.
The full length follow up to the band’s 2004 E.P. release, We Are Fast Moving Motherfuckers, Dark Is The Path That Lies Before Us is an enchanting amalgamation of modern indie-rock, classic pop melody, and everything you loved about post-punk’s origins. Managing to maintain the fundamental characteristics of their sound while breaking free of formulation, the band abandons one the integral rules of engagement from their first record and now embraces songs that stretch beyond the two minute mark. The result is a set of tracks that always remain consistently interesting, but never drag on.
Bearing rich dynamic complexity and straight-on accessibility is a rare ability that the New Trust have a knack for: The Path’s guitars interweave in angular counter-parted interplay and return to blistering power chords seamlessly; Staples’ alto swoons and Sanger’s PJ Harvey-esque bellows bind in call and response compliment; frame working drum and low-end syncopation keep the crash course navigation grounded. Lyrically, ink with coal-black undertones of apocalyptic triumph and peril sets the general tone, but there’s plenty of direct relevance to go around. If “I pledge allegiance to the fags, the immigrants, the drunks, the disenfranchised punks” doesn’t get your heart beating what will? Thirteen bangers in under forty minutes – here’s an unstoppable one for the soft ones, calloused ones, little ones, and the jaded prog-punks who need a little light on their way down the road less traveled.