Detours Aplenty: Forty Minute Detour, October 24 at RIBCO Print
Music - Feature Stories
Written by Jeff Ignatius   
Thursday, 22 October 2009 09:05

Forty Minute Detour

The most obvious touchstone for the local power trio Forty Minute Detour is Alice in Chains, which is odd when you consider some of the other things that get thrown into the stew.

Alice in Chains, after all, seemed like the most authentic grunge-metal group -- dark and dirty and, in the person of lead singer Layne Staley, living the nightmare of its songs.

Forty Minute Detour's In the Edges often invokes that dank blackness. Chad Clark's vocal performance and his big, flat, fuzzy guitar hook make "Nervous Breakdown" the Alice-iest cut on the album.

But it's rare on the record in not breaking from the formula. And you only need to look at the band photo from In the Edges to know that this is a little different: Bassist Josh Elmer, guitarist/vocalist Clark, and drummer Josh Morrissey are all smiling.

Throughout the album, they takes pains to wander outside for some sunshine and fresh air. And beyond grunge, it's evident that its members consumed a fair amount of hair metal through the years.

The band, performing with On Distant Shores and The Post Mortems at RIBCO's Fall Homegrown Showcase on Saturday, is in other words more interesting (and less derivative) than the Alice in Chains comparison would suggest.

There are experimental touches, such as a title track that's light percussion, voices channeled into soft noise, and unobtrusive guitar and bass accents underneath synthesizer icing. (It takes some balls to name a record after a relatively formless interlude.) "End of Summer" has a similar compositional approach but with an industrial edge.

And then there's the reality that both Clark's singing is often all wrong for Staley-style anguish, and that he sometimes busts out a shredder guitar solo that's just as incongruous.

In crucial ways, those are all strengths -- a more emotionally honest approach to the material. Too many hard-rock bands oppress listeners with incessant doom and gloom, yet Forty Minute Detour understands that it doesn't hurt to let a little light in.

The soaring chorus and solo of "Sort It Out" matches the plea of the lyrics -- not hopeful or happy, necessarily, but insistent. "Second Chances" has a bit of a British Invasion opening.

Typical of self-produced and -recorded albums, In the Edges isn't very sonically dynamic or rich, and the songwriting and some of the performances feel rote. But there are enough detours here to indicate that the band is something beyond the sum of its influences.

RIBCO's Fall Homegrown Showcase begins at 9 p.m. on Saturday, October 24. Cover is $3.

For more information on Forty Minute Detour, visit Myspace.com/fortyminutedetour. For more information on On Distant Shores, visit MySpace.com/ondistantshoresmusic. For more information on The Post Mortems, visit MySpace.com/thepostmortems.