Trip Shakespeare

  • Trip Shakespeare
  • Applehead Man (Gark) 1988  (Clean) 1988 
  • Are You Shakespearienced? (Gark) 1988  (Clean) 1989 
  • Across the Universe (A&M) 1990 
  • The Crane EP (A&M) 1990 
  • Semisonic
  • Great Divide (MCA) 1996 
  • Feeling Strangely Fine (MCA) 1998 
  • All About Chemistry (MCA) 2000 
  • One Night at First Avenue (Semidelicious Music) 2003 
  • The Best of Semisonic (MCA) 2003 

This Minnesota combo mines an eclectic strain of rustic folk-pop, with an energetically quirky sound that’s bohemian without being cutesy. Applehead Man is a spunky debut, with stylishly visceral lyrics and inventive melodies. Though the band — here a trio — doesn’t yet possess the expertise to do full justice to Matt Wilson’s surprisingly sophisticated compositions, the songs make it clear that this is a combo to watch.

Are You Shakespearienced? shows increased depth and a more distinctive musical voice. With upgraded production and the addition of Wilson’s brother Dan as second guitarist, Trip developed an approach that’s both far-reaching and personal; ditto for their odd, homespun harmonies.

Across the Universe is a too-rare example of an indie act benefiting musically from major-label treatment. With Fred Maher co-producing, the quartet tightens its sound while maintaining its identity. A new version of “Pearle,” originally recorded on Applehead Man, demonstrates how much Trip has grown; the playing is more confident and interactive than ever, with an increased rock edge that doesn’t detract from the gentle charm of “Turtledove,” “Gone, Gone, Gone,” “Snow Days” (sung by bassist John Munson) and “The Crane.” “The Crane” was also featured on an EP released prior to Across the Universe, along with three dandy live versions of older Trip tunes.

Trip’s postscript was Semisonic, with which Wilson and Munson found late-’90s mainstream alterna-rock success with the hit single “Closing Time” and the album Feeling Strangely Fine.

[Scott Schinder]