PatientZero has a reputation for being Prog-ish, assisted no doubt by the inclusion of drum solos in their live shows and Sarvak's elastic, high-wire vocals. The songs on Ape leave room for improv opportunities, there are clever, off-center rhythms and weird chords and guitar parts scattered throughout and "What is Ceasar's" does open with mystical flute trills. But, at their core, the songs on the album are creative, melodic AltRock, closer to Incubus than Dream Theater. Sarvak is an imaginative, virtuosic guitarist, but the tracks on Inflatable Ape Nation too often border on breathy, theatrical melodrama. "State of the Union" is an a capella track and the record's low point, where Sarvak shows off his strong pipes and sings about the current fear-mentality the Bush administration has used to stay in power. It's a noble but clichéd sentiment, and the unimaginativeness (with phrases like "cowboy diplomacy") coupled with Sarvak's overwrought delivery make it almost laughable. To be fair, most of the lyrics are thoughtful, poetic punditry about the state of the world and our country today, making for a crafty concept album of sorts, mostly without coming off too heavy handed.
When the music kicks in, things get a little more interesting (and a lot less cringe-worthy).
The playing on Ape is unquestionably solid and there are a lot of crafty ideas within each song, but it often feels like the band is trying to cram too much into too small of a space. PatientZero's music -- as well as the socially accute lyrics -- is passionate and clever, but sometimes too much for its own good. It's as if there are two competing sides of patientZero -- the progressive musicality and the memorable songcraft. The band peaks when both sides intermingle without stepping on the other's toes. But, on Inflatable Ape Nation, those moments are too rare to make it a thoroughly enjoyable listen. (patientzero.net)
More Local Notes
· This Sunday, Newport's Southgate House again hosts the "Tommy Steffen Memorial Music Fest," a benefit for Big Stef, Inc., a nonprofit organization that serves the elderly and less fortunate in Northern Kentucky. Music starts at 2 p.m. and is provided by a plethora of local acts from various genres, including The Blue Rock Boys, Buckra, Wojo, Ben Walz, Wiley McDermott, Peter Lloyd, Ken Foltz Quintet, Lagniappe, Taylor Farley & Blue Rock, Drew Dunn, Bohemian Family Band, Liz Bowater, Cash Ownly and the Badaires and the Comet Bluegrass All-Stars. (bigstef.org)
· Northside is so hip, even voting in that neighborhood is cool. As if the mess that's going on in Washington right now isn't enough motivation, this Saturday the 'hood will be getting people hyped up to vote on Tuesday with the "Northside Celebrates Voting" event, featuring information on the candidates and issues, as well as live music from Baoku and the Image Afro-Beat Band (at 4 p.m.), The Three Virgins (6 p.m.) and Get Sweaty (8 p.m.). The "ultimate political party" takes place in the parking lot at the corner of Hamilton Avenue and Lingo Street.
· Local Indie rockers view-finder return to the stage this Friday at The Comet in Northside, opening for johnnytwentythree. The band took some time off to work on new material, which they plan on playing Friday and recording soon in their new studio they built with fellow locals Caterpillar Tracks. (myspace.com/viewfinder)
CONTACT MIKE BREEN: mbreen(at)citybeat.com