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THE ETHER: Jettisoned to the stratosphere with Continental Drifft

Listening to Continental Drifft's third album 'Prequel'

Continental Drifft's sound is like a psychedelic experience. Always elusive and hard to pin down. The fuzzy four piece that has been cruising the Rochester scene for a couple years. Their tunes bring a modern garage rock flair to the acid jazz genre. Their music seesaws and shimmys through various influences. Quick shifts from garage rock, to blues, to jazz, to indie are common. Strung together with reverb-heavy grooves and uncommon lyricism.

Their latest album 'Prequel' released late February. It's the first influx of new music we have heard from the band in two years. It is a much needed alien transmission from our sludgy space cadets.

A center theme the band enjoys playing with is a strange one: Space Wizards. Continental Drifft acts as our cosmic bards telling us tales from a far away place. Each release in their discography is more like a chapter in a book. Each song gives us another look into a fantastical fictional world.

Their first album ' Wizarding War' sets the stage. The tracklist includes 'Emergency Broadcast,' 'Kids Go To War' and 'Take To The Skies'. The lyrics are about exactly what you think. References of away stars and robbed mystics are peppered throughout the album. The band described second album, Genesee Johnny, as a 'heart-rending, nightmarish vision of mystic nihilism'. It serves as a dystopian Mad Max-esque sequel to the first. The solemn heavy tones bring to mind sci-fi cities shell-shocked and ravaged by war.

Unlike the Star Wars prequels, this one is worth a damn. Continental Drifft jettisons us back to the beginning. 'Prequel' is a spacey psychedelic journey through the cosmos. The album takes a cheerful tone, much like the first. Vocalist, Shane Driffill, croons and groans his lyrics fitting well into the hallucinatory instrumentals. The feedback and pedal loops are theremin styled. Mike Converse is a rocket of a drummer firing off rapid percussion each track.

The guys bring it back to earth a few times breaking character of sci-fi storytellers. Rochester-heads will notice Easter egg references to bars and local locations throughout the album. The song 'Melancholia' is all about meeting a girl in the South Wedge. Though told in true Continental Drifft fashion. The story line of the song seems to shift timelines and add oddity to an otherwise simple topic.

The main appeal of this music is how well all these elements weave together. The songs can talk about insect rebellions and rocket ships without being cartoonish. The band bends and warps different musical genres into one immense sound. An individual style hard to find anywhere else. Even party songs with the usual themes of sex, drugs, and loud music contort into something new. The band keeps you guessing in the best way. Continental Drifft is the music that will be playing on the jukebox in the restaurant at the end of the universe.

Joe Palmateer is a freelance writer and music columnist. He previously founded the Rochester Insomniac Magazine and now knows too much about local music to stop writing about it. You can contact him at joe.palmateer@allwnyradio.com.

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