It’s familiar, but like absolutely nothing you’ve heard before. That’s about all this reviewer can muster as a lead for reviewing the latest Stratospheerius release, Headspace. Led by electric violinist/vocalist/mandolinist and former Clevelander Joe Deninzon, the quartet unleashes their fourth full-length effort with an assortment of songs that simply careen from your speakers. Following up their critically-acclaimed Live Wires disc, Headspace contains a frenzied mélange of alt-bluegrass, progressive rock, jazz fusion and funkabilly, with shades of the neo-hippie 90s and space rock for good measure. If Bela Fleck and Frank Zappa had a love child in outer space, it might grow up to sound like these guys do.
Band leader Deninzon brings it from the word go, channeling every bit of voracity through his 6 and 7-string Viper electric violin. No joke, he pushes bandmates Mack Price (guitars, vocals) Bob Bowen (electric and acoustic bass) and Lucianna Padmore (drums) into the stratosphere. You know their name is fitting after the set opener “New Material,” which pinballs through an array of time signatures and chord progressions that stop on a dime. In contrast, “Old Ghosts,” “Today is Tommorrow,” and the manic “Gutterpunk Blues” go for a bigger, louder and faster Jam Band ethos. Pay particular attention to the inimitable cover of The Police classic “Driven to Tears” and the set closer, “Heavy Shtettle II,” which you simply have to hear yourself to believe. Even I’m a bit lost for words about it. Memorable hooks, gravity-defying instrumental prowess and a kitchen sink move toward rock and Zappa-esque fusion fill Headspace. Let it fill yours.
Stratospheerius performs at the Beachland Ballroom, 15711 Waterloo Rd., next Wednesday, November 7 at 8PM. Singer/songwriter and former Clevelander Jann Klose opens the show and Ryan Montbleau headlines. Visit Stratospheerius at http://www.myspace.com/stratospheerius. Visit the Beachland at http://www.beachlandballroom.com/. Pick up the new Stratospheerius CD at http://www.cdbaby.com/.