thisiswar came to life as the solo imprint of song-writer Travis Wright, who began his career back in 1998. The project’s lo-fi indie-folk sound and alt-rock roots set out to evolve, bend, twist and echo over the sound of 3 studio albums and 37 unreleased personal albums, featuring songs that have been covered by artists the likes of Lovedrug and Sierra Swan. The project’s 2014 release “Rooftops” saw Travis collaborating with a full line-up of musicians sporting wildly different backgrounds.
The latest album by thisiswar, “The Lonely Life of a Space Traveler”, includes guest appearances by Nicole Fiorentino / Backing Vocals (Smashing Pumpkins/The Cold & Lovely), Dale Baker / Drums (Sixpence None The Richer), while the title track is performed by Sierra Swan. On the fringes of music you can find some really spectacular things. It’s a journey that’s often worth taking- trying to scope out artists doing something unique and passionate in the face of everything corporate and plain. This is one of those few examples of true gems that can only really be found with a little searching.
If you like your lo-fi indie folk-rock with a psychedelic twist and uncanny melodies underlining gorgeous, surreal lyrics, then you might be into thisiswar. While technically not your customary rock crooner, Travis Wright has one of the most honest voices I’ve heard. He’s got Bob Dylan’s nasal tone all wrapped up nicely within his own unique style. The guitars are really interesting too. Sometimes it gets heavy, others times it is sprawling, but always retains a basic, bouncy sound in an accomplished, majestic way.
The lyrics showcase stunning imagery, and insightful, personal, poetic streams of consciousness. They meld perfectly with the melody flowing from Wright’s voice. “The Lonely Life of a Space Traveler” is one of those few albums that can actually be classified as an “experience,” when listened to.
Musical soundscapes are usually smooth and shimmering. thisiswar leap into unknown territory by making theirs distorted, scratchy and heavy in places, with thick fuzz and reverb in others. thisiswar is a project for people who like their music raw with a soul and a lot of guts – just the way music should be; the exact opposite of those awful techno and pop sounds that are polluting the airwaves out there. thisiswar picks you up and shakes you down, leaving you naked and hopeless within a few moments of kicking things off with the barebones piano-driven track, “You Are My Favorite Condition”.
Travis Wright is both creative and focused. He is talented in all areas, both musically and lyrically. The guitar sounds bob and weave, bringing songs to a haunting conclusion. “No One Else Is Watching” is such a song. “Relentless”, on the other hand, is an upbeat, drum-dominated song, reminding me of some British pop-rock and punk songs of the past.
All through this album, the formidable guitars, more than any other instrument, are used as a means of texturing and coloring each song rather than just playing catchy riffs or aimless solos. But the genius comes from the way Wright seamlessly blends everything together to achieve a magical synthesis. This is most evident on the album’s grungiest track – “Black Rabbit”. I could go on naming and describing standout tracks which abound here. But the object should be to listen to the entire album from start to end!
As a rule, I don’t judge people by their musical preferences because it only starts arguments, but it is beyond me how anyone could listen to this album and not understand its sheer brilliance. I do understand however that failure to connect immediately with thisiswar is not a random thing. His stuff comes at your ears from a different direction than you may be used to, and it should be listened to several times before you start to get it. Great music is often uncomfortable to hear the first time.
Travis Wright aka thisiswar is one of the most fruitful musical minds around. On “The Lonely Life of a Space Traveler” he has stretched the edges of modern music, and rejected genres. He has broadened the boundaries by kicking down the fences of indie and alt-rock. And unlike mainstream corporate rock, thisiswar is not pure musical masturbation, but the aural evolution of an artist within the context of modern rock looking back at its roots.
“The Lonely Life of a Space Traveler” which features Dale Baker on drums, Josh Lennen on guitar and an all-star roster of musicians will be available November 13th 2015. You can Pre-Order now at http://thisiswarmusic.com