Rhythm & Views

Travis Morrison

The Republic of Travistan is a made-up country, shaped exactly like Travis Morrison's head. The liner notes to the album Travistan are complete with statistics the United Nations might find puzzling, like a national literacy of "99.9% Special Dumb" and an average "surface awesomeness" of what looks to be about 55. The surface awesomeness most accurately applies to Travistan--Morrison's first solo record since the breakup of The Dismemberment Plan--and that's due entirely to four songs on the record, each of which has a different president asking the general public to "Get Me off This Coin." If it weren't for these songs, which are 99.9 percent Special Dumb, then Travistan's average surface awesomeness would probably be a heck of a lot higher.

The rest of the record is calmer, quirkier and more introspective than Dismemberment Plan records. "Any Open Door" is desolate and slow, but Morrison's standard flippancy is in full effect in "Song for the Orca," a tribute to animals held in captivity. "This song is for the gator, laying in the roadside cage in FLA / you'll tear the cracker to shreds, someday. / I'll read about you in USA Today." Travistan was recorded, among other places, at John Vanderslice's Tiny Telephone Studio, and the record has a twinge of Vanderslice, especially on "Angry Door" and "Che Guevara Poster." These are pretty much the only songs on Travistan that showcase Morrison's unique songwriting, but they're strong enough to make Travistan a place worth visiting, especially if you program the "Get Me off This Coin" songs away.

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