Space versus Speed
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Space versus Speed

Portland, Maine, United States | SELF

Portland, Maine, United States | SELF
Band Rock Classic Rock

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Since 2000, we've had the Popsicko, Rocktopus, As Fast As (three albums), Spencer and the School Spirit Mafia, and now Space versus Speed. All with Spencer Albee as principal songwriter and frontman. Seven full-length records.

It seems like a lot until you consider Eric Clapton was with the Yardbirds, the Bluesbreakers, Cream, Blind Faith (for my money the best classic-rock album of all time), Delaney and Bonnie, Derek and the Dominoes, and then fronted a solo record — all between 1963 and 1970. Makes Albee look downright focused.

It doesn't matter if he has a different band name every other Friday. I've never been disappointed, and I still listen to at least a few songs off every record he's ever made. Every band has had its signature sound, filtered through a Beatles-pop lens Albee loves to apply. The most recent School Spirit Mafia was almost folksy, with lots of acoustic guitars and backing harmonies. It felt very super-ego. Rational. Space versus Speed might be the record that is the most Spencer. The id. He used to like to throw these spacey keyboard lines into Rustic Overtones tunes, or tracks that were basically fine with just normal guitar-bass-drums voicing with As Fast As, because, well, he's a keyboard player. But this album is keyboard-centric, as though he finally realized that he didn't need to front this band with a guitar. It's all spacey keyboards, and guitars that sound like spacey keyboards, and bass that sounds like spacey keyboard. It's a digital celebration.

It's down, dirty, and probably the most fun thing he's every done, too. It all started with the "iRok" single back in August. It was though Albee impressed himself with the melody line that runs through it, like he fell in love with it. I'm glad he did. Coming seventh on this 11-song disc, it is the album's heart. A blast. And you can't even really tell Albee sings on it. Saiyid Brent's rap is certainly the song's identity. But it's the energy that matters. It's undeniable.

Albee's got help, though. Horn player from the Mafia Jamie Colpoys (Fogcutters Big Band) gets a writing credit on "iRok," and he's now part of the band. As are Nate Nadeau (Conifer) on drums, Neil Collins (Lincolnville, Twisted Roots, Eldemur Krimm) on bass, and Walt Craven (Goud's Thumb, 6gig, Lost on Liftoff) on guitar. That's some serious talent and experience.

All but Collins get songwriting credits on the second single from the album, "Tea and Cocaine," which opens with a melody line that sounds like a "power-up" in a Mario video game, and Albee vocals so distorted and mirrored by a robot voice that you could hardly know it was him. But the song structure and melody are all Albee. There are few who write a catchier chorus, and this one delivers in full. Which makes the contrast with the video game stuff all the more jarring, like an ice cube on the back of the neck on a summer day. Bracing, but good. A little bit exhilarating.

"Indispensable," the chorus of which is repurposed for Spose's "Into Spose," was cowritten by the Lucid's Dominic Lavoie, and is a bit psychedelic like that. The chorus is "Florida Sunshine" good, as is Tim Emery's lead guitar bit between the last two choruses. Lights out.
"Set It Off" has a wicked na-na-na vocal line. Wicked.

There is a line of heaviness that Albee edges across every once in a while that sounds somewhat forced — "Red Line Cannibal," "AC15" — but Albee is pushing the envelope and a songwriter isn't trying hard enough if some things don't work 100 percent of the time.

He comes full-circle by the finish, with the song most like his oeuvre, "By Land As By Sea," a straight pop-rock tune infused with a tinge of melancholy and no co-writers: "I've failed them, as captain/How could I let this happen?/And now I'm living with this."

Failed? Not hardly. - The Portland Phoenix


Space Versus Speed is Spencer Albee's latest project, and if the song "iRok" is any indication, something tells me he's onto something good. Watch the video on YouTube, and you'll not only know what I mean, but you also may find yourself busting several dance moves.

Fountains of Wayne with Space Versus Speed. 8 tonight. Port City Music Hall, 504 Congress St., Portland. Ages 21 and older. $15 in advance; $18 at the door; $30 VIP seated. Tickets at Bull Moose Music locations and www.portcitymusichall.com. - The Portland Press Herald


This new jam from Portland’s ubiquitous popster, Spencer Albee (As Fast As, Rustic Overtones, Rocktopus), is an interesting change in direction. Most recently, The School Spirit Mafia took the Beatles to the Polyphonic Spree, but this new project is closer to Beck and the Gorillaz. Space Versus Speed will debut on August 10, and finds Albee joined by Nate Nadeau and Neil Collins. This first track, “I Rok,” also features Sayid and Jamie Colpoys. I haven’t heard anything else yet, but from what I’ve been told it’s a little more classic rock than this electronic-influenced track. - HillyTown.com


Discography

Space versus Speed (Local Release 11/23/10)

Singles:
I Rok
Tea & Cocaine

Photos

Bio

Space versus Speed.
Men who cook. The songwriter called me last night and said he was invited over by the drummer for foie gras and aged bourbon. If you think that's fancy, what did you do on Tuesday night? Fill the Space. The songs are immediate, melodic, but with an element of demented adventure. The musicians have, at some point, with some band or other, recorded with David Bowie, toured with Joan Jett ,Ok Go!, lived with Juliana Hatfield, wrote songs for around 20 albums, signed with Arista, Important Records, and Tommy Boy. Imagine if Paul McCartney fronted Led Zeppelin and had Beck produce it with Ken Scott engineering it. Retro sounds and modern synthesizers, lyrics with heartfelt provocative imagery and heavy-hitting drums. This is a band with a lot of bad relationships under its belt, and a lot of hope. You can hear influences that come not just from listening to records, but also from years of being on tour. One of the band spent a night chain smoking with Dave Grohl, another traded guitars with Kim Thayil of Soundgarden. It's a sloppy elegance: they ran out of bourbon on Tuesday, so chased the foie with Schlitz; Another in the band took a year off to buy a sailboat, rebuild it, and pilot it himself, because his wife had a dream to sail around the world. Baudrillard once said that “driving is a spectacular form of amnesia – everything is to be discovered, everything to be obliterated.” Space is unfillable by Speed. Stop reading. Listen.