Connect with us


The Desert Island Disc Challenge: ‘Triptych’ – The Tea Party

On my island, we party like it’s 1999.

Robert Frezza



Editor’s note: As part of CMN’s ongoing music journalism program, we asked our team of music writers to take on the age-old challenge of choosing one piece of music they would like to have with them if they were stranded on a deserted island. It’s an absurd notion, but also irresistible. See all the different approaches they took to the challenge right over here.

In 1999, when the Canadian rock trio The Tea Party released their fifth album Triptych, the music world was saturated with pop: Britney Spears, Backstreet Boys and N’Sync, to name just a few.

That year, I found peace away from the pop hype in the Tea Party.

Upon first listen to this album, I thought it could be a record that would revitalize the music scene and make the public crave rock and roll angst again, but I was wrong.

The crossover for the band to the rock mainstream may have been a difficult one, but in my mind, this is the album that revolutionized the rock scene. So, if I could only bring one album with me to a desert island is Triptych.

This is my coming of age album.

When I was nineteen, I couldn’t understand what was going on in the music scene. Why wasn’t there a Nirvana for my generation?

In the Tea Party, at last there was, but it was my little secret. This band could have made an impact like a tsunami, wiping out the pop and rap metal scene of the late 90s with one strum of Jeff Martin’s guitar strings. Drummer Jeff Burrows and bassist/keyboardist Stuart Chatwood complete the trio that became one of Canada’s most revered rock bands.

The Tea Party, based in Toronto, formed out of a jam session. Their first few albums explored psychedelic blues-rock. The band was dubbed Moroccan roll based on their Middle Eastern influences.

It was not until 1999 though that they decided to take a more modern approach to their sound and blend blues with industrial undertones. Triptych’s opening track “Touch” meshes blues-rock and industrial churn and sucks you in from the get go. The sound of the guitars are very innovative and Martin’s voice howls out the lyrics: “Now love don’t make a sound/reach down and touch the ground.”

The next track, “Underground,” flows into the Middle Eastern sound that the band is known for, with Martin’s haunting distorted vocals leading the song. The album continues a reinvention that excites the living daylights out of me.

Things slow down a bit midway with the classic sounds of “Heaven Coming Down” and a cover of Daniel Lanois’ “The Messenger,” both songs a staple of their live shows.

The Tea Party’s writing on this album boasts the confidence that deserves the same respect as Nirvana got when they ruled the world. Don’t misunderstand me, this band may be a trio, but they are nothing like Nirvana. But they could have had the same impact as Nirvana did on the scene, but with a larger magnitude.

The album closes out with the lament of “Gone”. It is a song about a relationship in mourning. Martin solemnly sings over strings, “I think she’s gone again”.

The band had the maturity both in their songwriting capabilities and in musical prowess to overcome the sad state of the music industry at the end of the century. Their music is ever evolving — whether it be the world music, earthy rock they began with, or the industrial blues-rock that has brought them full circle. That is one reason I have come to respect their music.

The Tea Party stands their ground in originality and are one of the few bands that can produce tracks organically. And that is a rare thing in today’s American Idol pop culture.

If you obsess over singers and bands, and are one of those people who make a playlist for every occasion, join CMN’s Music Journalism Course and get real-time experience, intense feedback on your writing, exposure to music industry insiders, and a great place to display build your portfolio. Get all the details on the Music Journalism Course here.

Robert Frezza is a music journalist based out of NYC. He has interviewed Lady Gaga, Kings of Leon, Garbage, Nine Inch Nails, among many more. He enjoys interviewing musicians.

CMN Music

Music3 days ago

Viewpoint: Pitchfork’s Best of the Decade is Full of Pleasant Surprises

A notable balance between well-known artists and smaller independent acts.

Music2 weeks ago

Pitchfork’s 200 Best Albums of the 2010’s has Plenty of Gaps

How does one come to the conclusion that Death Grips come out just above Leonard Cohen but below Janelle Monáe?

Music3 weeks ago

Album Review: Tamino – ‘Amir (Deluxe)’

An expanded edition that offers poetic drama from beginning to end.

Music1 month ago

What Makes A Scary Song? Three Things Every Spooky Tune Needs

Genuinely scary sounds, an unsettling story, or just party jams with eerie sound effects?

Music1 month ago

React: Paste Magazine’s Best Albums of the 2010’s List

It's difficult for any one person to approach a list with complete objectivity,

CMN Vibes1 month ago

CMN Vibes: Spooky Season

The only playlist you'll need as Halloween gets closer.

Music2 months ago

4 Places to Read Great Music Journalism

Where to find great, free music writing and journalism on the web.

Essentials3 months ago

Four Useful Spotify Features for Music Writers: Part One

Tips, tricks and cool shortcuts to deepen your knowledge.

Music3 months ago

‘We’ll Carry On’: Examining the Legacy of Rock in the 2000s

The seeds planted by these bands are the reason rock will thrive for generations.

Music3 months ago

Man Arrested in Connection of Death of Rapper Mac Miller

28 year old Cameron James Pettit was arrested today on allegations of supplying deceased rapper Mac Miller with lethal drugs....

Music3 months ago

5 Things You’ll Quickly Learn After Moving From the USA to New Zealand

So you graduate college without any real career plan and decide to spend a year bartending so you can travel...

Music3 months ago

Review: Captain Beefheart, “Hair Pie: Bake 2”

An odd intrigue.

Essentials3 months ago

4 Podcasts Every Music Writer Should be Familiar With

Music journalists these days need to listen to a whole lot more than just music.

Music3 months ago

Cocaine and Rhinestones – Breaking Down Merle Haggard’s ‘Okie from Muskogee’

Tyler Mahan Coe brings the facts and the feel of history.

Music3 months ago

Track Review: Pool Kids – ‘$5 Subtweet’

Diving into a new age of confrontation.

by , SUNY Brockport
Music3 months ago

Hip-Hop’s Most Influential Artists of the Last Half -Decade

Drake, Migos, Travis Scott and more make the list.

by , SUNY Brockport
Music3 months ago

Podcast Review: The Needledrop: How To Get Into Death Grips

Dominick Rabrun joins Anthony Fantano for some intense chat.

Music3 months ago

Desert Island Disc: ‘The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill’

This album challenges misogyny, materialism and issues within relationships

Music4 months ago

Liily: Aiming to Turn the Music Industry Upside Down

California band is on the way up and has new music due out this fall.

Music4 months ago

Interview with Singer Natalie Clark

A CMN Q&A that touches on playing guitar, growing up in Glasgow, and being starstruck on 'The Voice.'

Essentials4 months ago

5 Essential Websites for Music Journalists

Great sources to confirm facts or come up with story ideas.

Music4 months ago

Remembering The Queen of Soul: 5 Reasons Why Aretha Franklin Will Never Be Forgotten

The Queen left not only a beautiful legacy, but a blueprint for all artists to follow.

Great Reads

1 Step 1

Copyright © 2019 College Media Network