For the rest of us, the world of snowboarding, skateboard, and any other “extreme” sport seems like an envious place. One where adventurous young talent risk breaking their necks doing something they love and, if they’re good enough, getting paid large sums of money to do something they inherently love.
What happens when that world is taken from them? I can think of no more extreme test of a person than to take away their livelihood and see how they react to the sudden realization that they’ll have to find other means to make ends meet. For Trevor Andrew, this hard reality brought him to music. Using the moniker Trouble Andrew, he forged ahead with a project that incorporates electronica, hip-hop, and elements of skate punk. It’s surprisingly more legitimate than what his original resume would have you believe.
Originally released a few years ago, Trouble Andrew gets the remix/repackaging treatment along with slightly different cover art thanks to a major label deal and the cash money that it entails. Before you cry foul, understand that Andrew took to his new project with a lot of hard road work and self-promotion. The question is, will all that hard work be enough to legitimize his band and is it worth it?
The story goes that Andrew got into snowboarding by taping his mother’s snow boots to a big skateboard and took the whole contraption to a nearby hill. With a little bit of practice he got good, eventually becoming one of the top ranked snowboarders in the world and appearing in the 1998 and 2002 Winter Olympics.
A fall forced a lot of off time for recuperation and, as fate would have it, the down time was spent at girlfriend Santi White‘s apartment. White, known as Santogold, had a bunch of electronic equipment strewn about the place and to pass the time, Andrew began forging the demos of what would be his debut.
Beginning with the infectious “Chase Money,” Trouble Andrew starts impressive enough. For every clichéd verse (“does your money love you / does your money fuck you”) there memorable new wave rhythms and a totally retentive chorus. “Bang Bang” is another winner that uses some nifty Big Black beats and incorporates Santogold for a few verses in what is the album’s strongest moment.
Andrew’s straight ahead cover of Eight Dayz‘ “What’s So Strange About Me?” is telling. The song, one of those underground gems that you hear and wonder why it wasn’t bigger than it was actually was, is the product of Claus Grabke, Eight Days’ leader who happened to be a revered skateboarder during the ’80s. He complimented his own talents on the board with a musical side project and is clearly an inspiration for Trevor Andrew today.
The rest of Trouble Andrew is repetitive with very little deviation. What you’re left with is a fine soundtrack for today’s moment with no real incentive for future listening other than for nostalgic reference. Ironically, some of Trouble Andrew sounds exactly that: a homemade reference point utilizing the same nostalgic source material as the soundtracks of skateboarding videos.
There’s also the problem of Andrew’s lyrics, which seldom stray from a world that’s been blessed with opportunity and economic soundness. As much work as Andrew has put into everything, there’s still a level of privilege that few can relate to and because of this, there’s a real sense of shallowness with the stuff he’s putting on paper (“When it comes to pimpin’ / I think it’s in my body / I think it comes with instinct” – “Pimp Millennium”). I would have liked to see him channel some of his own story…something that he’s done countless times in press releases and promotional material…into the songs. Give me something to adhere to, dude, something that lets me know your album isn’t the product of some passing folly.
It’s important to understand that we’re witnessing a formative part of his creative years. In other words, Trouble Andrew comes off like that kid in a make-shift snowboard. With time, Trevor Andrew may find the same kind of accolades here that he received as a snowboarder. For now, Trouble Andrew shows the need for additional practice and a higher degree of Andrew’s own emotional investment.
Like that 9-year-old kid braving the slopes, there is talent within the manufactured beats. The real test will be when Andrew’s income will be derived solely from his music and he no longer has the benefit of his snowboarding residuals to help offset the financial drains of his electronic fancy.
MP3s: (courtesy of AOL’s Spinner)