The Commotions – Volume II
The Commotions are the sort of band that’s a dying breed these days. The eleven member band hails from Ottawa, Canada and their second release expands mightily from the promise of their debut while still holding true to the musical vision laid out on that initial offering. This isn’t merely some expertly dispatched pastiche from talented technicians – it’s obvious, both vocally and musically, how the participants involved with the writing and recording of this release embrace the tropes of R&B, soul, funk, and blues while still desiring to bring something of themselves into those forms. It makes for a compelling listen. This isn’t a band afraid of taking chances either and that’s reflected in their willingness to bring substantive lyrical content to a musical form that, historically, has often treated that facet of a song’s presentation as a throw away moment or mere filler. The Commotions, thankfully, write fully rounded songs and the twelve tracks on Volume II bear ample evidence of that.
“Good Enough” makes for a blazing beginning to the album and Rebecca Noelle’s singing has every bit as much muscle as anything the band conjures musically. The Commotions’ horn section occupy a prominent and vibrant role in the mix for this song, but the rhythm section of bassist Ken Seeley and drummer Jeff Asselin play a clear role in making this the sort of first song that Volume II deserves and needs. “Bad Girl” allows David Gaw’s guitar a little bigger of a presence in the instrumental pie, but it’s never so much that it takes precedence over other elements of the song. One of the album’s more challenging numbers comes with “Masquerade” and one of the biggest influences on how this tune turns out is a powerful sax run and a light woo wop sound. It takes a different turn than many of the cuts on Volume II, yet it never sounds too different than the surrounding tracks. The Commotions continue their hot ride with the songs “Let Me Kiss You, Baby” and “Too Little, Too Late” thanks, in significant part, to the power of the chorus in each track. The former is the better of the two in the physical way it meets the listeners and the production really elevates it several notches with its “hot” sound. “Too Little, Too Late” breezes past listeners with a lot of muscular flash and the brassy bounce in this song is particularly effective.
Second vocalist Jeff Rogers really excels with Volume 2’s lone ballad “Loving You”. Despite the obvious nod to a more vulnerable side of the band’s songwriting, the same confidence defining the other songs comes through on this track as well. “Take a Chance” features an arrangement that plays around some with the tempo some, but settles for the most part into a straight forward, head down groove that makes for a great second to last song. The band ends Volume II with “Come Clean”, a smoky funk and blues infused curtain closer with a sultry Noelle vocal that matches up well with it. Volume II from this glorious band more than builds on the promise heard with their first release; it blows it up exponentially and hits home. This is a memorable platter of tunes and playing that’s difficult to forget.