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Album Review: The Turnips (Self-Titled Debut)

(The Turnips, from left to right: Joe Artibee, Curt Vanwagoner, Paul Geoghan, Chris Bemben, Andy Kirby)

“Hailing from West Michigan, The Turnips have been a collective in one way or another since 2009. With members from prominent Michigan bands such as Squeaky Clean Cretins, Glean Infusion, Ultraviolet Hippopotamus, and Poor Boys Relief, The Turnips are cultivating a unique and superb new sound. Staying active in the Michigan music scene, The Turnips have stayed busy building a complete weekend long music festival from the ground up, recording their debut album, playing multiple Michigan markets, and performing at several music festivals. The multi-talented members of The Turnips strong work ethic shows in their stellar songwriting and engaging performances. Members of The Turnips have performed and recorded with prominent members of the Michigan folk scene including: Seth Bernard and May Erlewine, Rachel Davis Band, Jen Sygit, Steppin’ In it, and Breathe Owl Breath, among many others. Bringing an eclectic, roots-based blend of Rock, Blues, Folk, Americana, along with many other influences, The Turnips have had no trouble bringing inspiration and energy in any setting.”

- Band Bio, CDbaby.com

The Turnips’ self-titled debut album begins like an old phonographic record. It pops and crackles until the full warmth of its tone cuts through as clear as a sunny afternoon. But the lighthearted and carefree sounds of “Good Love” quickly fade as the rousing “Wear a Crown” comes sneaking up on you like a fox. With a hard, driving rhythm, a pulsating organ and a quick-fingered guitar hook, we catch a glimpse of the Turnips’ more rock-inspired disposition.

Changing gears again, the band moves into the folk ballad “Love is Just a Song I Sing” amidst a tasteful change of pace. As this song takes flight, there’s the unmistakable frequencies of the doghouse bass and the smooth sustain of the dobro. This tune, a rich melody complete with bedtime story-type vocals, serves as a compelling reminder of The Turnips’ more delicate side.

But around the corner lies yet another surprise. “Waiting for a Long Time” is blues music to the core. A distorted, murky slide guitar shines through on this number with a raw and aggressive approach. In true blues style, the lyrics paint a picture about heartbreak and the painful emotion of lost love. But towards the end of the album, it was “Winter Blues” that really stood out to me as being a great demonstration of the band’s overall sound. The lyrics are playful and whimsical and the tune cheerfully catchy. It’s a sound that would be enjoyed equally as much sitting around a campfire as it would inside a crowded room full of partygoers. Its feel-good, harmoniously composed, upbeat and downright charming.

From folk ballads, to alt-rock, Americana-driven tunes and blues-rock burners, The Turnips leave no stone left unturned. This album is a genre-jumping journey across a rich musical landscape as thick as the White Pine forests of Western Michigan. There is instrumental prowess, lyrical inventiveness, and extreme attention to detail. It’s explorative yet tasteful, unique yet highly accessible, and nothing short of a powerful debut album from a band with enough potential to blow the roof clear off the entire Midwest music scene.

Do yourself a favor and give this album a spin. It can be found in its entirety on Spotify, and is available for digital download at Amazon.com, CDbaby.com, and on iTunes. Also, be sure to follow The Turnips on Facebook for information regarding upcoming shows.

2 years ago by in Album Reviews , Music Features | You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
About Frazier

Jeremy Frazier is the editor-in-chief of Soundfuse.