First Appeared at The Music Box, March 1999, Volume 6, #3
Written by John Metzger
The Ominous Seapods are on the verge of something big. Over the past few years, they've made a name for themselves and moved towards the forefront of the jam-band scene. They're working with all the right pieces and just need to do a little fine tuning to get things into their proper places.
Since 1993, the band has crisscrossed the United States in a frenzied fashion, performing more than 200 shows each year while rapidly expanding their rabid fan base. They managed to release three albums independently before signing with Hydrophonics/Megaforce. Last summer, the band released their first disc for the label — Matinee Idols, which was recorded earlier that year at four concerts in the band's home state of New York.
The Ominous Seapods are a five-piece group, featuring the talents of Max Verna and Dana Monteith on guitar and vocals, Tom Pirozzi on bass and vocals, Ted Marotta on drums, and Brian Mangini on keyboards. As can be expected from a group that clearly falls into the jam-band genre, they have a strong penchant for explosive jams. Matinee Idols showcases the band's energetic performances on its eleven tracks totaling more than 65 minutes.
As with many jam bands, there is far too much reliance on pre-existing sounds. Where once the Grateful Dead reigned supreme, now it's Phish that this generation of groups seems to turn toward for inspiration.
It's no surprise that on Matinee Idols, the Ominous Seapods most clearly draw from the music of Phish, even going so far as to work in the obligatory bouncy country tune on Oberon and Titania. The band also flavors their music with just a hint of the Allman Brothers Band, which causes their overall style to fall into the realm of moe., another New York-based band.
For all their mimicry, Matinee Idols is still a very solid and respectable effort, and it's full of infectious melodies and transformational grooves. It's hard not to get hooked on the driving, intertwining guitar rhythms of Passengers en Route or the funky, upbeat pulsations of Blackberry Brandy. The Ominous Seapods certainly understand where their roots lie, and underneath it all, they are beginning to utilize this knowledge to develop their own style. This is a step in the right direction, and it's something they must do in order to transcend their hybridized sound and become something more than a just a substitute for Phish or moe.
1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 1999 The Music Box