Power-Trio Limo Impresses With First Album 'Hands Free'

Power trio Limo's "Closer" is a midtempo, two-chord stomper with an earworm melody. This week's Press Play

The dynamics of power-trio rock — guitar, bass, and drums, and usually one vocalist, locking in on a variety of grooves, in concise bursts — haven't changed much over the years. Maybe that's good.

The Limo — three guys who share a house in Plainville — released an album of power-trio rock on Bandcamp called "Hands Free" at the end of December. It was recorded in their garage in six months. They mixed and mastered it themselves, testing it out on car stereos. (Rock albums used to be soundtracks for driving around.)

There's a workshop feel to much of it. Bassist/singer Kevin Horbal, 28, will write a chord progression, develop a general structure, perhaps come up with a vocal idea or two. He brings it to drummer Ben Szach, 26, and guitarist Flip McKensy, 28. "We jam it out," Horbal says, "and pretty much what they do instrumentally is up to them."

The 11 tracks on "Hands Free" resonate with experiences you might have living in a small Connecticut town near a highway exit: "Sucking down a 40 and hauling my wagon down the road," Horbal sings in "I-84," a song about driving under questionable circumstances, "blowing through the tolls and scraping the occasional pole."

I've found myself involuntarily singing "Closer," a mid-tempo, two-chord stomper with an earworm melody: "The closer we get, the more we're drifting apart / You'll find a stupid boy and break his stupid heart."

"I'm having a ball," Horbal sings later in the song, "but I don't know what it means." We've all been there, and wouldn't mind returning sometimes.

All three members have day jobs. Horbal works at an East Windsor nursing home. Szach sells insurance. McKensy is a cook.

"Music is not our main source of income right now," Horbal says, "but it's the goal that we're working toward. We eventually want to sell our music and play out and tour and stuff like that."

Horbal and Szach previously released a five-song EP called "How's My Driving?" They found McKensy a year ago, when they needed a third roommate.

"We all went to the same high school, just a couple of grades apart," Szach says. "We were all doing music, and it just happened to work out really well that we all wanted to work on projects with each other."

Verses and choruses on "Hands Free" largely fall where you expect them to, and that's fine. "Ain't No Fool" adds tasteful background vocals and clever guitar/drum patterns. "Groovy Woman," with a caustic guitar solo from McKensy, recalls T-Rex, and "Summer Stuff" is ska-punk. Horbal usually sings with a distortion effect on his voice, but not always.

The Limo gigs regularly at the Red Zone Grill in Plainville. (You can catch the band there on Feb. 20.) They're experienced musicians, but they haven't played out that much, it seems, as a unit. That will hopefully change.

"We never had a plan in previous bands," Szach says. "We just played, and that's what we loved to do. With this band, we wanted a more serious approach. We want to make a long-lasting impression with what we do."

"Hands Free" is a good calling card. The Limo's strengths, right now, are songwriting, adding glam-rock riffs to catchy melodies, playing each song like it's a single and hooking up.

The future, Horbal says, involves "playing a ton of shows and getting ourselves out there as far as we can. New Haven is a scene that we haven't really broken into, so we're excited to do that. Play a lot of shows, record some new music, rinse and repeat."

The Limo's "Hands Free" can be streamed at thelimo.bandcamp.com.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Press Play is a new column exploring the underground musicians of Connecticut. If you have new music to share, send it to mhamad@courant.com.

 

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