Release Date: Apr 21, 2015
Record label: Melvin
Fans of the Turbo Fruits have become accustomed to change, since the group's first three albums each featured a different lineup, with guitarist and singer Jonas Stein the only constant since their formation, but album number four, 2015's No Control, delivers a different sort of change-up. Though Stein is calling himself Jo-Nasty this time out, remarkably enough, No Control features the same musicians as the band's previous long player, 2012's Butter, but where the Turbo Fruits have previously been at their best serving up hard rock in a decidedly '70s manner, here they let loose with their pop influences. The band is still fond of big guitars and vintage fuzzboxes, but No Control suggests Stein and his bandmates are finally coming clean about their love of Badfinger and the Raspberries, and they're having fun with it.
Ah, the maturity record. The one in which the quick-witted snark about wild adventures and consciously dumb decisions evolves into pensive rumination about real-time relationships and how sometimes it kinda sucks being a functional adult. After seven years as a band, Nashville garage rockers Turbo Fruits have finally reached that point. Gone are the 45s emblazoned with pot leaf album art and 7”s pressed on “Sunshine Acid” wax.
A turbo fruit is (obviously) a really fast fruit, but in the plural the Turbo Fruits are an American garage band from Nashville, with a reputation for notoriously wild live shows and frenetic rock songs about girls, drugs and frying their brains. No Control is their fourth album (the last was 2012’s Butter) and going on its’ strong content, suggests this band should not be dismissed as a bunch of wide-eyed, useless stoners. Todd Snider, with whom the band have recently recorded a single (“Why Can’t We Be Friends”) and supported on tour, has said that the Turbo Fruits are one of his favorite rock bands, and you can see why, as No Control has moments of brilliance.
Turbo Fruits have come of age, but not in the dramatic, ‘black and white instead of neon’ Blink-182 way, in a calm, decided, ‘just getting on with it’ way. Ploughing through members, changing labels with every record, it must’ve forged a certain attitude. That, and a breakup. Whilst the focus of the record is still on an imperfect love, the nagging of previous output has turned sour, and now frontman Jonas Stein is condemned to reflect.
Like many other current bands from their region, one of the most interesting things about Turbo Fruits is their Tennessee scuzz. As much as the state’s musical identity has been forged on narrative country and Memphis soul, the Fruits, along with geographical and musical contemporaries like Diarrhea Planet and JEFF The Brotherhood, often prefer to do away with lofty genre aspirations in favor of sincerity. And when you’re a young band from the south, sincerity tends to mean gutter-minded riffs, crude production, and lots of misadventure, whether it’s narcotic, alcoholic, or romantic.
Head here to submit your own review of this album. Having already surveyed Pete Dale's latest Milky Wimpshake record this week, it seems the warmer turn in the weather has come at the perfect time, coinciding as it does with two releases by bands named to suggest fields full of ripening strawberries and cool, long drinks in the shade. But whereas the Milky Wimpshake album was a messy gem that proved again that Dale has a little of the Daniel Johnston and a little of the Jeffrey Lewis about him, Jonas Stein of Turbo Fruits inhabits the same head space as the Kooks - if I'm being kind - or Miles Kane, if I'm not.