I should think that, by now, it’s just plain common sense to know better than to combine rock music with trombones. Few situations involving both slide brass and electric guitar can ever turn out to be positive. In fact, it can only lead to ska. Who wants that? I certainly don’t. But Doris Henson wants me to believe otherwise. In fact, that pirate kid on the cover of Give Me All Your Money looks almost threatening about it. He could probably take me. So maybe this trombone thing is worth checking into.
In all seriousness, this Kansas City fivesome is a big, loud rock band with no ska-leanings in the slightest. In fact, you hardly even notice the `bone. (Note to self: improve word choice) As a textural device, it’s quite effective, adding a little flair to Doris Henson’s otherwise burly rock `n’ roll. “Pollen Tom” is made all the more commanding and “The Most” just a bit more soulful. But as anyone can tell you, it’s not the trombone that makes the band, even though it’s so idiosyncratic that it actually could, under the right circumstances.
Doris Henson is a guitar band, whether or not some dude’s blowing a horn on the side. And Give Me All Your Money is quite heavy on the guitars. “A Dark Time For The Light Side of the Earth” is one of the better rock tracks I’ve heard in some time, and there’s no shortage on badass riffs there. “Let You Down” is a dense, fast rock track with the band affecting Southern accents on the intro with a group chanting of “I don’t wanna letcha dow-w-own.” “No No No” is somewhat noisier, with squealing harmonics repeating throughout the song, though all in all, the pace of the song is more repetitive and dronier than the rest of the album. And regardless of what has been written about the band before, they ain’t playing `70s style album rock. This is the spirit of Midwestern post-punk in the vein of Chavez, Hum and The Life and Times. Ain’t no Skynyrd riffs here. But there is plenty of righteous fretwork, especially on “Joybirds.”
So it’s like this, basically. Doris Henson is a rock band that happens to have a trombone player. They aren’t, in any way, hindered by it, nor are they doomed to play ska. Give Me All Your Money is a refreshing album that makes it safe to play air guitar again. And air trombone. Try explaining that one to your friends, though.
Hum – You’d Prefer an Astronaut
Chavez – Ride the Fader
Mock Orange – Mind is Not Brain
Jeff Terich is the founder and editor of Treble. He's been writing about music for 20 years and has been published at American Songwriter, Bandcamp Daily, Reverb, Spin, Stereogum, uDiscoverMusic, VinylMePlease and some others that he's forgetting right now. He's still not tired of it.