Tee Pee Records just may have a direct line to higher intelligence when it comes to choosing bands that will inevitably become staples in my constant rotation. Canada’s Comet Control are no strangers to the label, however, consisting of core members Andrew Moszynski (guitar) and Chad Ross (vocals/guitar) of psych rock quartet Quest For Fire who launched their eponymous debut for Tee Pee in 2009. With 6 years, two highly acclaimed albums (sophomore album ‘Lights From Paradise’ garnered success with the 2010 single ‘Set Out Alone’) and countless extended jam live performances to their name, the group split in 2013. Ross and Moszynski, now joined by Nicole Howell (bass), Jay Anderson (drums), and Christopher Sandes (keys), extend their prolific hand into melancholic dream pop, while retaining that oh so coveted nugget of psyched out Sabbath soul; the end result is a varied and richly textured collection of tracks with enough stoned out flare to bend your mind and enough muscular riffage to break it.
The group ignites with ‘Blast Magic’, toting a fuse that burns slow and steady; but the preamble to explosion is excitement enough, with a sound that aims straight for the darkly romantic, dream pop lover kept close to our chest (don’t snicker, you know you got it deep down). With the opening line, “There’s a hole in the sky tonight…“, you know you’re in for one hell of a ride. But despite the track’s ethereal aesthetic, its menacing undertow is very real. A doomy, bass heavy rhythm section threatens to snuff the romance with each break; no doubt, the track is firmly grounded in dark rock territory, channeling the same destructive passion and intensity that makes the aforementioned love affairs so sweet. As Ross languidly croons the words “…blast magic…” over an ascending/descending slow tempo chord progression, the song reaches a climax of swirling freak-out solos and crashing cymbals; and just when you think you’re on the verge of complete devolution, the explosion’s over. The band struts past that door labeled ‘ass kicking neo-psych jam session’, gives a firm nod, and keeps strutting. The group gives its sound plenty of acreage for experimentation, but the space is finite; this kind of discipline serves them well because it keeps a song that’s unbridled at its core focused and direct, allowing enough room to breathe without losing control.
The band hones in for the kill with the ‘boots on the ground‘ garage rock assault of ‘Future Forever‘; it’s Eddie Glass (Nebula) via Iggy Pop all the way, with just the right amount of slick, sly and cool. The group juggles identities without becoming a slave to their influences, making it damn clear that they are ‘their own‘. Nevertheless, what makes later tracks like ‘Ultra Bright‘ and ‘Century‘ ‘great‘ rather than just ‘good‘ is their ability to recreate a sound made classic by previous established acts. The former expounds on the ‘Feathers‘ era Dead Meadow shoe gaze stomp, adding just a bit more amp and energy, while The Handsome Furs-ish ‘Century‘ inverts the 80/20 synth/rock formula with an up-tempo, ‘drums high in the mix‘ approach. These not so subtle nuances contribute more than detract, and Comet Control is obviously the better for it.
Despite the album’s stylistic variability, it retains an odd cohesiveness that just plain works; the band consistently hits the mark on song craft, with an ease of execution that comes from years of experience. The electric-acoustic blues hopscotch rocker ‘Feel The Haze‘ seems effortless, like the quintet had an early morning roll from the bed to the riff and back again. With the finale, ‘Master‘, they try their hand at 80s-ish atmospheric balladry; a somewhat unconventional but reasonably expected ending, it’s a calculated risk that pays off. As the track drifts into its final seconds, you realize that the last of the group’s ‘many faces of psych rock’ might indeed be their most intriguing.
This latest chapter for Ross and Moszynski confirms that the ‘art‘ in artistry never dies. Comet Control pushes boundaries and manages to challenge convention in a genre already known for its acid trips and innovators. An impressive debut and sure to find itself on many end of year best lists. Congratulations Tee Pee, you did it again.
Scribed by: Jeremy Moore,