Seconds into lead track “She Ain’t the Kind” from Kingston-based SUZE’s sophomore record, “Sounds from Thursday Evening,” the rolling strobe of orbital wah-wah guitar licks and kickin’ back rhythm says to stay a while and not be afraid to dig a little deeper into some tunes that are, upon further listen, much more than face value.
Recorded at McCrindle Building Recording Studio in Laurel Run, SUZE’s new music bristles with the unexpected. The band is hard to pin down, as there are elements of everything from the classic jam-based giddiness of Widespread Panic and the mirth-funk of String Cheese Incident to meat-and-potatoes Zeppelin-esque rock and Frank Zappa-inspired hooliganism. Main man Adam McKinley guides his troupe through 10 songs that are hopelessly mired in big, stankin’ grooves and tripped-out fun – the vibe is mathematical recklessness, at times progressive in nature, but always a little more insidious around the next turn.
“Another Cautionary Tale” is Memphis funk by way of a fuzzed-out guitar lead, sort of like Gavin DeGraw’s “I Don’t Wanna Be” on an acid trip, while “Take Me to Your Room” is an ice-cool slice of late-night faux R&B, anchored by a tasteful saxophone lead and bubbly keys; the track is an ear-leaning tale of bawdy conquest.
Cuts like the instrumental “Buffalo 8” display the band’s nod to musical intricacy, with a jazz-laced breakdown and speed-picking dizziness, the meandering from tempo to tempo creating the illusion of several different mindsets. McKinley has said that he writes in such a way as to almost score a movie, and there is quite an epic happening here. “Ain’t It Funny Sometimes” also dazzles with Steely Dan-meets-Otis Redding ambient, tripping soul – a myriad of textures that can’t help but taste great together.
SUZE does indeed sound best when it’s ripping up convention, as on the off-kilter, arena-ready dementia of “Goob’s Doobs,” complete with a sing-along, scat-like chorus and zany instrumentation that wouldn’t sound out of place on The Mothers of Invention’s 1970 album “Weasels Ripped My Flesh;” this band infectiously defies the norms of chord progressions and can whip up a mood from scratch with creativity to burn.
A band that breaks the mold note after note, SUZE’s consistent inconsistency is a genre of its own and a welcome cleanser to the musical palate of the NEPA original landscape.
SUZE ‘Sounds from Thursday Evening’ Rating: W W W W W