The tune of the everyman is sung on a daily basis — it’s almost impossible not to hear it. It’s the song of the clock-punchers, the slave-wagers, the people who count their minutes down to that last second when they can be free again.
Karl Hendricks, a Pittsburgh native who has been plugging away with various incarnations of his Trio since forming it in 1992, sees the everyman out there. He sees him stroll into that hated job and deal with relationships that never work out. On The Jerks Win Again, the Trio’s seventh album, and first in five years, the band moves onward with this sound and subject matter, which has been the keystone of its existence. The band has older and wiser since releasing Declare Your Weapons in 1998, and has used to break to expand its moody, heavy indie-rock sound and rounding out its lyrical repertoire.
On “Chuck Dukowski Was Confused,” the album’s lead track, Hendricks wails: “Still, meaningless words are all we’ve got left/ in a thoroughly corrupted world/ You keep on pretending it matters/ and I’ll keep on singing about girls.” As a shout-out to the losers and socially repressed of the world, Hendricks strikes a chord with all of those kids who really don’t give a shit about that Rollins guy, anyway.
The losers and eternally self-conscious come together again on “I Think I Forgot Something…My Pants.” The title could use an overhaul, but the song is quintessential KH3 magic, with a telling interplay between the music and Hendricks’ desperate voice. “I open up every goddamn pore of my heart on a daily basis.” Hendricks’ gift of communicating dark tales of the human psyche, without the emotional firecrackers used by some of his contemporaries, is to be commended.
Over the years, the only constant in the Karl Hendricks Trio has been Mr. Hendricks himself, and listeners we’ve changed and grown with him. The little stuff that plagues us everyday hasn’t gone anywhere, either, but with Hendricks’ masterful storytelling, those roadblocks become mere speed bumps.