On ‘Smokin’ Voyages’ the Space Apaches play serious rock with a heavy dose of humor too
Not many rock bands have a good sense of humor about their music. But, then again, not anyone is quite like The Space Apaches.
The band describes itself as, “Kinda like a psychedelic Eagles with a sense of humor,” and you can also hear a strong Tom Petty influence in there, as well. It’s good-time music that doesn’t take itself seriously at all.
The band’s latest album, “Smokin’ Voyages,” indeed features plenty of light-hearted, well-constructed rock songs held together with clean vocals and solid guitar licks.
While the first three songs all sound like prototypical rock songs, things start to get interesting by the fourth track, the psychedelic “Desert Life.”
Perhaps it’s the melodic, teardrop-sounding keyboard, the soft tone of the vocals, or simply the way everything is packaged together, but “Desert Life” sounds uniquely modern with a foot in the past. The way lead singer Andrew Reed half sings, half whispers the vocals toward the conclusion of the song adds to the effect that much more.
As the record continues, they contrast the softer “Desert Life” with a heavy sounding track, “I Am the Six O’Clock News.” It may be perhaps the most metal song on the album, although like the rest of their songs, it’s heavily inspired by 80’s hair metal, also.
The chorus might not make a lot of sense, what does it mean to be the Six O’Clock News, anyway? but, it’s catchy enough and the repetition of “I am” over and over the second time they play the chorus sticks it in your head.
Interestingly enough, the band also shows off some 70s funk flavor particularly on the song “Breakin’ the Ice,” which is a well-produced instrumental track featuring a haunting guitar solo that plays in concert with a groovy keyboard solo chock-full of the funk.
The album also includes a few covers, such as Stan Jones’ 1948 country track “Ghost Riders in the Sky,” which is covered in more of a rock style than the original, with fantastic results. The other cover on the album, “Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Is In,” is probably my favorite track on the whole album.
If you’re unfamiliar with the title, it’s probably most famously known as the song from the Cohen Brothers masterpiece film, “The Big Lebowski.”
For me, that was the first time I had heard the song and I’ve loved it ever since. The Space Apaches’ version also includes a killer guitar solo that rips and roars like a boss. If this song doesn’t have you singing to yourself at least a little, there’s something wrong with you. A big part of picking cover songs to put on your album is knowing which songs work the best for your band, and here it’s clear that these guys thought long and hard about it, with spectacular results.
If there were anything negative to say about this album it’s that some of the songs tend to sound too similar to one another, which isn’t meant to say that they’re bad, just that they stick to a similar formula. Not all the songs, mind you, but enough that when listening to the album you’ll discover which songs you can likely skip and not feel like you’re missing anything extremely unique.
But, aside from the songs I’ve already mentioned, I’d recommend you listen to “I’m on My Way to Feeling Fine,” “A Song for the Rest of My Life,” and “Maybe,” which features an amazing piano opening that sounds very Bob Seger-esque.
In conclusion, there’s much more to love about “Smokin’ Voyages” than there’s to dislike. It’s well-produced music filled with fun originals that takes cues from beloved American artists along with some interesting covers that differentiate themselves from the source material in some fun ways.