Albany’s Formula 5 has hit the mark on their solid debut album, showcasing their sounds and skills in a tight seven tracks. Well produced and with fluid consistency, the album should be a must listen for Albany area fans, especially those who like Phish and Umphrey’s McGee – you’ll hear their influence intermittently on the album. The tracks are mostly six to eight minutes long and well worth it, giving you a clear idea of what to expect from live performances, polished songwriting skills and instrumentation that meshes together to create one solid debut album.
The opening track, “Hot Box”, is a perfect lead in, with all four on the ball for one of the catchiest songs I’ve heard lately. It reminded me of The Big Wu, UVHippo, early String Cheese Incident and a little bit Umphrey’s McGee. Joe Davis’ guitar has just the right amount of pedal to lead the song, with Mike McDonald’s keys building tension towards a change in tempo mid-way through, likely a launching point for jams when played live. The chorus “Hold fast, cooking on down, cooking on down the road” is a great crowd-friendly line that is sure to be an anthem with a little time. “Coming Home” has hints of Bruce Hornsby, a fair amount of Trey and a little Kang thrown in for good measure. The number develops into a well formed jam, with Mike McDonald’s keys giving a nice faux-reggae beat to the tune. “Paella” is a progressive instrumental and gets into a nice airy groove midway, this is another one that will excel when seen live.
“Sueno”, a minute long interlude on the album that splits the two halves of the album apart, and with “Mister Elixer”, the album picks up where it left off. This track is catchy and riffy, feeling more like Phish than any other tune on the album. You can hear Trey’s influence pouring through Joe Davis in the best way possible. “3 Ring Circus” starts with a long organ lead in, and McDonald shines on the track, establishing the groove before starting in with lyrics. The final track, “Houdini”, has a Pink Floyd-esque intro, before things get nice and funky. Bill Shattuck’s bass groove is a highlight and pairs well with Greg Marek’s drumming. An added bonus to the track are Jeff Nania on saxophone and Bryan Brundige on trombone, both from the Albany band, The Chronicles.
Formula 5 has a great debut album – don’t miss them on March 2nd at Red Square for their CD Release party! Funktional Flow from Buffalo opens up. Doors at 8, show at 930
Key Tracks: Hot Box, Coming Home, Mister Elixer