Album Review: Commuter by Space Mountain Sickness
ALBANY — Right from the first measure, Space Mountain Sickness’ Commuter drew my ears in.
This band is incredibly tight, and examples of that are heard all over this record. With its opening track, “Hologram,” Brian Masella (guitar/vocals) displays his skill in songwriting and performance. The tune largely oscillates between riffs in 4/4 and 5/4 time, while managing to not make the groove feel awkward or forced. In fact, the guitar work throughout this album is quite enjoyable, especially on “Commuter” and “Shadows,” tracks two and four, respectively.
Not all songs are intrinsically difficult. For example, “Picture Off My Wall” (track three), is largely a straightforward punk rock song. That being said, there is a synthesizer in the mix that adds a very peculiar, and often jarring sound to the song; in all the right ways. The tightness of the rhythm section – Kevin Bohen on bas and Joe Taurone on drums – cannot be overstated. This is especially displayed on “Hologram,” “Shadows” and “pLace/the Chatham Connection” (track six). On the latter track, the band shifts to a half-time feel during the middle and remains there. This instrumental section grabbed my ear immediately and kept it the whole time. Although there are many influences that I would wager this band possessing, for this listener track six harkened heavily back to The Raconteurs with their guitar tone.
Aside from the musicality in this album, there are also subtle examples of humor present, namely in the instrumental track “Sonata for Battle Droid” (track five). The name is quite humorous, while the synthesizer and guitar work within the song explain why it was titled in that manner. The last track of the album, “My Weekly Valentines,” ends in such an unexpected fashion; a solo synth suddenly appears in the mix and degrades in tonality until the song’s conclusion.
This record was such a pleasure to listen to. From dynamic grooves, to tasteful tempo and time signature changes, and a display of competence from each band member and their instrument, I found myself wanting much more. I do wish the vocals were lifted slightly in the songs, as I often found myself having a very hard time hearing what Brian was singing. That being said, I highly recommend Commuter and advise those that listen to blast it. It sounds great that way.