I wrote something not too long about how there were few artists of any worth to ever come out of New Jersey, and that Springsteen wasn’t one of them. While that was a bit of an overstatement designed to elicit a, most likely negative, response (reportedly, it did too), I was certainly correct in listing The Feelies as one of New Jersey’s truly great musical contributions.
Incorrectly thought of as a Feelies spin-off, The Trypes could certainly also be on that list if it was broadened even just ever so slightly. Fellow Haledonians, The Trypes were formed in 1982 by Marc Francia, John Baumgarnter, Toni Paruta (eventually Baumgartner when she married John) and Elbrus Kelemet. They attracted the attention of Glenn Mercer and Bill Million, who were still making music together after the initial incarnation of The Feelies had split up. Dave Weckerman, a longtime member of The Feelies circle, as well as Brenda Sauter and Stanley Demeski, would also eventually join up, but as people came and went, the largest the group numbered at any time was seven. When Mercer and Million reformed The Feelies with Weckerman, they took Sauter and Demeski with them. By 1984, The Trypes were no more, and the remaining members (Baumgartner, Paruta and Francis) formed Speed the Plough.
Until now, there was very little recorded evidence of The Trypes, just a four-song EP, 1984’s The Explorers Hold, and the one track they contributed to their label Coyote’s Luxury Condos Coming to Your Neighborhoods Soon compilation from the following year. Fortunately, Acute Records has dug up another 13 tracks for their handsome compendium, Music for Neighbors; six are included on the vinyl edition, while the other seven are available on the digital version. (There are actually another couple songs on Acute’s website for download.)
While it’s certainly easy to hear The Feelies in what The Trypes did—Bill and Glenn have unmistakable guitar sounds—as heard here, The Trypes were a wilder beast. They blended touches of psychedelia not unlike that of their friends in the Paisley Underground, Eastern tints, and instrumentation that included flute and other woodwinds. Such components are obvious on their cover of George Harrison’s “Love You Too” from the EP, but also on “The Inner Light,” one of the bonus cuts. Where The Feelies and The Trypes overlapped (and how the latter influenced the former) becomes more apparent listening to the record. Indeed, “The Undertow,” which would wind up on The Good Earth was first recorded with The Trypes, and Glenn and Bill couldn’t have gone from Crazy Rhythms to that album without having made The Explorers Hold first.
But more than just satisfying some kind of curiosity, Music for Neighbors shows how fully realized The Trypes were.“Our Obsessions,” which features both Toni and Brenda singing, hints at the melding of the jangle of Mercer and Million with the pastoral lilt favored by their bandmates that may have taken place if the band was longer lived. But while it’s tempting to wonder what if, what is far more enjoyable is listening to what was.