Traindodge, a ten-year-old trio from Norman, Oklahoma now has four full-lengths under their belt, and though this is the first I’ve heard of them, they sound polished enough to take to the radio waves if their luck is right. “Maze” breaks out of the gate with huge four-on-the-floor drums and arpeggiated electric piano-type synthesizer. Rob Smith’s drums groove with the help of a simple and strong bass line by Chris Allen, and Jason Smith’s vocals start with hushed melodic lines that break out for choruses of "Just take it away / Just take it away!" in a Hot Water Music-style gruff vocal.
While their press sheet calls Traindodge ‘mathy’ and ‘prog’, I wouldn’t call them either one. They don’t come off sounding all that technical, and when they do something complicated they hide it well behind the rock. I like that. There’s nothing worse to me than a band stumbling through needlessly complicated songs trying to show off. Most listeners probably wouldn’t even notice the meter changes in the chorus of “When Bad Luck Talks” or the friction between the guitar and drum rhythms in “It Always Finds You” because they make it seem easy. This ability links them to the Dismemberment Plan, and indeed a lot of tunes here sound like they could be from the D-Plan’s less hyperactive Change. About the other label: If you call a band ‘prog’ these days, younger people will think of Coheed, for better or for worse, and these guys sound nothing like them. But the threesome does favor their heavier side, like in the crunchy guitar and rough vocals of “Brushing of the Wings” where they sound more like Queens of the Stone Age. “You, The Disaster” also has this feel, and while the song has a pretty catchy yet heavy chorus ("If you need a symbol / to stand behind") I can’t help but thinking it sounds way too radio-ready, like something I’ve heard before.
Traindodge also dig their electronics, and while most songs have some sort of keys in them, in others they completely take over. With its drum machine, swelling synth backdrop, even more synth chording over top and robot-like vocals, “Twice as Lost” sounds like something off Kid A, like its own “Idioteque.” Except the latter I liked and theirs not as much -- it sounds a bit square. I prefer when they embellish with electronics, rather than leaning on them completely, and luckily they stick with the rock more often than not.
Except for a few minor missteps, Traindodge shows they are a refined unit that has a big sound and big potential. Sometimes they almost sound too polished, but it doesn’t seem to be over-production, they just know what they’re doing and are smooth in their attack. Though I had never heard of them before this release, they grabbed my ear and with their work ethic of consistently touring they will inevitably grab the ears of many others with this solid collection of songs.