Album review: ANOTHER ROADSIDE ATTRACTION – Not Oat Action

Another Roadside Attraction [Release date 01.13]

Another Roadside Attraction is an eclectic Florida based band who mix intelligent melodic pop songs with lush harmonies and unexpected psychedelic wig outs.

Multi instrumentalist /producer Mark Zampella’s synth fuses the 80’s pop of ‘Not Too Friendly’ and The Police influenced white boy reggae and Arthur Lee(Love) vocals of ‘The Illumination’ with psychedelic workouts like ‘Ashram Temples’.

Somewhere in between there is a band that appears happiest shaping the kind of catchy hook of the up tempo ‘I Am Yours’, on which they combine pop sensibility with intricate band interplay.

All the essential band elements are to be found the opening track ‘Hard Drive’. The snaking guitar lines, chiming tones, layered keyboards and doctored voice lead the song into uplifting harmony swoops, punctuated by Ted Sipes intricate cymbal work and press rolls. Zampella’s long guitar arcs impressively cut through a dense wall of sound and come to rest momentarily, before rising again in a wah-wah sculpted finale.

The track sets the standard for the rest of an album that finds its equilibrium somewhere between jammed out moments of inspiration and catchy pop.

Bassist and keyboard playing vocalist Paul Louis adds a clever word play on the emotive ‘Something Else’, as Zampella’s sinuous guitar line cleverly evokes the meaning of the song.

The band enjoys a wide range of influences from Buffalo Springfield and Wilco to Floyd, Camel, Son Volt and Radiohead, though the respective influences are to be found in musical impulses rather than in a song as a whole. And it is this restless shifting of styles and exploratory grooves that makes ‘Not Oat Action’ something more than just an eclectic jumble of songs.

The lyrics tread a thin line between the observational (‘Not Too Friendly’), the quirky (‘History Of War’), the wistful (‘I Am Yours’) and the poetic (‘Something Else’), while drummer Ted Sipes adds an impressionistic narrative intro to the jammed out space rock of ‘Opus Magnanimous’, which certainly lives up to the grandeur of its title.

At times this album emulates those late 60’s West Coast psychedelic albums which used to mix poppy shorter tracks with longer psychedelic improvisation. But while ‘Ashram Temples’ fits into the latter category, the wide range of instrumentation – sitar, muted trumpet, percussion, organ and synth guitar – makes it unique.

Both ‘Ashram Temples’ and ‘Opus Magnanimous’ sound as if they found something extra while being recorded in the studio and Zampella slips into an exhilarating Jerry Garcia mode on ‘Opus’, as he studiously builds a layered solo of intricate beauty,

The rhythm section provides the perfect foundation for the band’s fluid extemporised music. The net result is a surprisingly accessible album with deep musical roots that warrants repeated exploration.  **** (4/5)

Review by Pete Feenstra

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