Sprocket Likes To Rock It
New York City jam foursome Sprocket has only existed for a few years, but the group has already built up a devoted fan base in the area due to a steady flow of well-received area gigs, primarily late night affairs at Greenwich Village mainstay The Bitter End. Drawing inspiration from influences as varied as Phish and Super Mario Brothers, the band has developed a pleasant mix of originals, covers, and always intriguing improvisation, and they seem to improve with every gig.
Last month, the group dropped their debut album entitled Tropical Bushwick, sourcing material culled from marathon practice sessions and relentless songwriting for a collection of tunes that bodes well for the group’s future. The album opens with “Cube,” a rollicking instrumental excursion that kicks off with a roiling piano-laden call to action before veering towards shimmering distortion, and winding back at the resplendence of the intro replete with wistful lead guitar and progression reminiscent of both Rift-era Phish and Anchor Drops-era Umphrey’s, a triumphant opening to a tortuous musical journey.
“Bad Jones” follows with an ominous bass line soon giving way to a sordid tale of love gone sour. Growling metal vocals underscore slithering leads and deceptively blissful instrumentation. Soaring guitar and searing organ squelch punctuate the tune’s lyrics of regret: “You told me once that you’re no good, and I never blamed you like I should.” The subsequent title track is a tongue-in-cheek nod to the group’s gritty home base of Bushwick, a decidedly non-tropical environs. Familiar tempos and themes reign in the lengthy instrumental section to pleasing effect, briefly dipping into mellower territory before dropping back into the verse and peaking with a waltz-esque coda.
Another bass intro lurches into the upbeat bad weather lamentation, “Trucks,” which follows in suit with the album’s seeming motif of darkness interspersed with glee, the sunshine washing away the tribulations of urban malaise. “Project 61” continues the theme of bliss, riffing on luminescence and taking the listener on a journey from ambient style jams to more carefully orchestrated staccato funk and back again, culminating in a tasty finish. “Wagon Tale” departs from the style of the first half of the album for a yearning wayfarer country ballad, with detours into surf rock bridges while still retaining the jammy flavor of the album at large.
“Headway” starts off relatively tepid, but redeems itself just past the midway point with perhaps the most inspired solo of the album. The tune, like the majority of the band’s canon, seems especially apt to thrive in a live setting. Betraying the anticipated outlaw country of its namesake, “Man In Black” returns to the rockabilly flavor hinted at earlier in the album for a swinging tale of a wild west barroom scofflaw. The slow burner “Red Light” punctuates the solid collection with a universally relatable story of a vicious cycle, forgoing lengthy jams and wrapping up succinctly with fading cymbals.
The album is available now on iTunes.