Not A Trampoline

Rob Cantor

Rob Cantor Music, 2014

REVIEW BY: Jeff Clutterbuck


Going down an Internet rat hole sure can be entertaining. In the digital age, it is a practice that has become incredibly easy and pervasive – what piece of media doesn’t provide you with dozens of options that suggest “Things You May Like If You Liked This.” Books, videos, and albums: everything is linked in some way or another. In the ‘90s we called it Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, but I’m sure there is a fancy millennial term nowadays).

So as much as I would love to provide a gripping account of just how I came across Not A Trampoline, delighting you all with the smallest details of searching under a box in an old attic, whereupon the faintest sun beam fell upon the dusty album jacket…well, the truth is I have no idea just how we ended up here. At some point, there was an album that linked to a song, which suggested another song, which took me to a page with a picture of a piece of fried chicken. So perhaps it was my love for all foods dipped in batter and fried that planted the seed of “Well, let’s see what this is all about, I guess.” Whether or not that is an example of Rob Cantor’s genius marketing is irrelevant; I am tremendously pleased in having made the choice to listen.

A great pop album doesn’t necessarily have to be a long record: sometimes the strongest component to pop music is not to overdo it. While listening to Not A Trampoline, I had flashbacks to Paul McCartney’s solo debut. That too is a short pop record and its strength was the fact McCartney didn’t take one good idea and beat it into the ground. The similarities end there for the most part; the production values of my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Not A Trampoline are much more polished and professional, but Cantor has pulled off a difficult task that not many are capable of. The record clocks in at 36 minutes and doesn’t even feel that long. There are not many opportunities for the attention to wander, which again demonstrates the strength of Cantor’s approach.

Cantor also doesn’t limit himself to one particular era of pop music, instead reaching out to a fairly wide range of pop influences. You can’t listen to “Old Bike” and not hear little pieces of Queen and Weezer, with a hint of ELO thrown in there. “Garden Of Eden” recalls some of the New Wave records, particularly those from The Cars. “I’m Going To Win” captures some of the energy of early Ben Folds Five, right down to that sweet fuzz bass. In fact, there’s even some of that Ben Folds-type humor mixed into the proceedings; it takes a smartass to title a song “Flamingo,” include a line about feeling like a “shy, enormous pink flamingo man” and couple it with the best Rico Suave impersonation I’ve ever heard (to be fair to the other Rico Suave impersonators out there: I haven’t heard all of you yet, so keep living the dream!). There’s also a very touching tribute in “In Memoriam” to the departed Alan Alda (I will let you figure that one out on your own).

As for Cantor, he acquits himself well in terms of his performance. Were one to have a more polished vocalist, I don’t think the album would be as enjoyable. Cantor doesn’t demonstrate the greatest range, but his vocals are smooth and he rarely has to stretch to hit a note. A good singer/songwriter should understand his/her limitations, and it’s clear that Cantor know just what he can do and is successful at it. The aforementioned “In Memoriam” allows him to showcase a delicate performance amidst the trappings of what sounds like an overwrought heartfelt ballad; again, it’s a nice touch in the days of over-processed vocals and Auto-Tuned monstrosities.

There are so many entertaining records in the world of independent music just waiting to be discovered and no way of getting to them all. I’ve learned to appreciate those moments when you find something that is more than worth your time to sit down and listen, and remember that there's the whole big world out there beyond the Billboard Hot 100. So do yourself a favor, take a trip down a rat hole, and see what you find!

Rating: B+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2014 Jeff Clutterbuck and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Rob Cantor Music, and is used for informational purposes only.