An unpretentious three-piece from the rocking pile of rubble known as Philadelphia, PA, The Company Corvette embark on heavy naturalism with their second full-length, End of the Summers. The follow-up to last year’s The Company Meeting and self-released through their own The Company Records (wow, somebody should really get them on the bill with The Company Band and make a theme night of it), the album offers few frills, the guitar of Alexei, the bass/vocals of Ross and the drums of Peter being as traditional in what they are as they are in what they do. The eight songs are laid back, not boring, but will be immediately familiar to anyone with experience in heavy or stoner rock, Ross’ vocals periodically weaving into and out of a Fu Manchu-style delivery while Alexei’s guitar – which seems to want to be fuzzier than it is; an issue of production more than tone – ignites friendly, accessible riffage behind. They’ve been together since 2008, and they have two records out, but The Company Corvette as they appear here seem to still be getting their bearings on what they want their sound to be, though at this point the recordings are nearly two years old (not that I knew when I got it for review, but the album came out last year). The results on their sophomore outing come across as wanting in production and direction, but the album still has a share of catchy songs, tracks like “Something New,” in which Ross wastes no time delivering the album’s title line, and “Blame it all on Me” clearly having been put up front on purpose to maximize the initial impression, and “One Over” following shortly with a bluesy groove in his verse. Once one goes deeper into End of the Summers’ 42 minutes, however, it’s easy to find material that stands out less from what’s around it, though the descending bass line on “Henry,” the third track, is probably the album’s best. If it seems like I’m back and forth on The Company Corvette, I am.
And as someone who uses the level of reaction an album provokes as well as the reaction itself to factor into the final analysis, that End of the Summers would leave me cold, even on repeat listens, doesn’t inspire confidence, whatever else might be playing out on my end that might also contribute to that being the case. But still, The Company Corvette is a relatively new band, obviously recording their stuff on a budget, and releasing it on their own. Ragging on the recording for not properly playing up the inherent dynamics in their verses and choruses seems like kind of a dick move – and if that makes writing this review like pulling the proverbial teeth, so be it. On a performance level, there’s pretty much nothing in these eight songs to argue with. Ross’ vocals vary in their level of effectiveness – nothing new for singers in this genre – but structurally, he follows the riff almost exclusively, and with next to no if not no variation from that pattern, there’s a feeling of redundancy that comes up by the time the later track “Bear in Mind” leads into closer “Third I.” If he’s going for that Scott Hill, “I surf in the mornings and then I go record in the afternoons” vibe, he’s touching on it, but it might be a confidence question, or at least some self-consciousness, holding him back from ranging in either approach or emotionality. That’s something that comes with time. To contrast, Alexei’s guitar is crisply presented and well layered next to the bass, but except in cases where the guitar is soloing, both Alexei, Ross and Peter are all moving in the same direction and a lot of the danger that the whole thing might derail that seems rooted in the best power trios is absent here – it’s almost too safe. Even when Alexei steps aside for a solo and takes something of a sonic chance, he’s not really shifting the atmosphere, and if the songs are going to wind up as showcases for his leads, I’m left wondering what it is that I’m supposed to take away from “Regular Skip” in the first place
Maybe it’s something in the chemistry between the three players – though that didn’t seem to be an issue when I saw them open for Truckfigthers in their hometown earlier this year; I recall thinking they were a pretty decent band – but I’m more apt to label it a production concern and hope that The Company Corvette’s next album brings with it some sonic growth as well as some stylistic development. Alexei’s playing is fluid, but it’s not enough to carry these songs, and in listening to End of the Summers, it doesn’t seem like the band want it to. As much as these songs follow the riff – and they do – it’s not the only element that could be working for them. It’s not like they’re totally lacking in potential or anything like that, just that they have different sides of their sound they should be playing to that they’re not on this collection, and especially with it being their sophomore outing, the sense I get is that they’re not where they should be in terms of songwriting, either needing to push themselves into a different approach, draw on more than one member for contributions, or whatever change it might be that makes their material more effective the next time out. For now, it’s not like End of the Summers offends, but it doesn’t have the same kind of character their live set had, and even as closer “Third I” pushes into sub-psychedelic swirling and reaches for more ethereal grooving, The Company Corvette don’t seem to be going as deep into the sound as they should be. I guess in the end that’s what’s most striking about their second album, the sense of being left wanting more from the band in terms of individuality of approach and more of a personal take. I’m not saying they have to bare their souls on every song, but at the same time, there needs to be something in the material to bring listeners back. They’re not there yet.
Tags: Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, The Company Corvette, Unsigned bands