One of the most prolific musicians in Northeast Pennsylvania strikes again. This time, Bret Alexander is out to have a little fun, with a project described on the band’s Facebook page as “a throwback to a time in life when music was pure and potent,” in Monster Track Supergroup. Comprised of, well, some “monster” AM radio nuggets of the 1960s and ‘70s, the band’s two EPs, “Vol. I” and Vol. II,” bristle with a decidedly analog coziness and unhurried lack of pretention with a meaty production value.
Coming off as the best-sounding basement tapes you’ve ever heard, the music is undeniably uninhibited and just short of reckless, without coming off as sloppy or superficial. The band, featuring Alexander on lead guitar, vocalist Jeff Pittinger of White Witch, ex-Breaking Benjamin drummer Jeremy Hummel, and live add-ons with guitarist Tony Harlan, Jimmy Lovcik on bass, and keyboardist Freeman White, is a cut above your average covers act. From the just slightly tongue-in-cheek reading of Cat Stevens’ “Wild World” on “Vol. I,” showcasing Alexander’s trembling acoustic delicacy, to the stiff upper lip passion on Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Have You Ever Seen the Rain?” on the same volume, the assembled musicians keep one hand in kid gloves and another in a bag of jam session-like immediacy in regards to the selected material.
One of the more interesting covers is Paul Revere and The Raiders’ “Indian Reservation (Cherokee Nation)” on “Vol. II,” with a variety of percussive tricks performed with chameleon-like showmanship via Hummel, the song seguing from moody candor reflecting the plight in the original lyrics to an almost primeval Deep Purple metal chug meets Alice Cooper’s “Welcome to My Nightmare” rock theatrics – too good to be missed. Badfinger’s “Day After Day” is pure daydreamy melancholy, replete with Alexander’s soothing slide guitar passages and a spot-on Vegas-like smoothness in Pittinger’s delivery.
A defining moment is the original song, “Adrienne,” on “Vol. II.” The high-velocity melodic inflection akin to disc one of The Badlees’ swan song double release, “Epiphones and Empty Rooms,” is rife with hard rock bluster, spirited pop punk with a catchier-than-a-cold chorus in, “Adrienne, sometimes I do things you don’t understand,” and a full-on rock star harmony guitar solo from Alexander – the effect is larger than life and will undoubtedly be a blast live.
An excitable detour resulting in a radio gold detox for some of NEPA’s hardest-working musicians, Monster Track Supergroup is nothing less than smiles all around.
Monster Track Supergroup ‘Volumes I and II’ Rating: W W W W W