Garage a Trois: Always Be Happy But Stay Evil


With its fifth release, Garage a Trois has crafted an album destined to go down as one of the best instrumental releases of the last couple decades. That may sound a tad hyperbolic, but Always Be Happy but Stay Evil showcases the extraordinary range of four musicians at the top of their respective games. 
The opening track, “Omar,” announces its arrival with a bravado rivaling that of its shotgun-toting namesake from The Wire, and sets a thundering pace out of the gates. “Resentment Incubator” employs a bawdry, burlesque strut with distorted horns as Stanton Moore drives the song through multiple changes, building things up as needed. 
“Kansas” serves as little more than a flyover state track, providing a haunted atmospheric quality that seeps into introduction of “Swellage,” replete with a variety of layered effects that mimic howling wind and vaguely tormented wailing. Moore and Mike Dillon masterfully assemble a discordant, stumbling rhythm punctuated by sharp, darting horns, and Skerik battles the duo to discover clarity amidst the clutter.  
The final track, “Assault on Precinct 13,” is an absolute gem. Moore kicks things off and once Marco Benevento chimes in, facial expressions become nearly involuntary. The song has an anthemic quality that could induce even the most jaded tour vets into a spastic fit of Jersey Shore-like fist-pumping in a live setting. 
In short, there are a few knockout tracks that’ll impress on the first spin, and the remainder that improve on subsequent listens. The quartet of Benevento, Dillon, Moore and Skerik have achieved a near-perfect balancing act and produced an album that blends an earnest sense of adventure with rockin’ the fuck out. This one’s a keeper.

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