There is some aspects of music that I feel guilty for. One is focusing a lot on metal music when there is alot of good rock music that is not getting coverage. And two knowing this I’m still extremely late in writing up something when I do get some good rock music across my desk. I’m of course speaking of the instrumental rock band Points North. I really should be ashamed of myself on being so late on doing a write up of the debut cd ‘Road Less Traveled’ and I am. Let’s just chalk it up to being busy, easily distracted and prone to procrastination. So enough about my angst let’s talk about ‘Road Less Traveled’.
To begin I want to do a bit of back story on how I came to be aware of Points North. I work with drummer Kevin Aiello’s brother Ken who you may have seen grace this web page with his retro picks and he informed me of his brother’s band called Points North. Now we have at times animated conversations about rock and metal anyway but I was intrigued to hear what this band does based on their influences. You see, I do enjoy instrumental rock music if it’s done well. I can thank Joe Satriani and his album ‘Surfing with the Alien‘ for this though I haven’t followed instrumental rock music as much as I should have over the years. Points North was gracious enough to allow a demo of one of their tracks ‘Vast Horizons’ to be on our first compilation even though there was misgivings about having song like that sandwiched among all of the brutality that was on that collection. I looked at it as a mood changer and shake things up a bit because the compilation was a mirror of our interest anyways and hopefully it garnered the band some new fans.
So we fast forward to today and Points North had went through a few changes. Bassist Damien Sisson was no longer there having joined and toured with Death Angel. Points North signed a record deal with Magna Carta Records and lo and behold released the first album ‘Road Less Traveled’ and picked up new bassist Uriah Duffy who had done a stint with Whitesnake among other well known musicians. So after a few years of gigs up and down the state and lineup changes and so forth what do we have as a end result? A great collection of songs that really should please anyone who enjoys rock music.
You see ‘Road Less Traveled’ is actually an apt title for a cd that really should be at home in a car on a road trip. When was the last time you took a road trip and had songs that could be the soundtrack of your journey? Probably only if you’re in range of a classic rock station that plays the same 30 songs to death for the past 4 decades. With Road Less Traveled you get some fresh tunes that wear their influences on their sleeves. Hints of Rush,Satriani,Eric Johnson,Steve Vai and others are present in every track. In fact one song is entitled Grace Under Pressure and makes no bones that it is an homage to Rush. The big reason for all of this obviously is guitarist Eric Barnett’s playing. You know he is technically proficient but he takes you on a journey with each song as if his guitar is actually singing lines in the song. And for me this is the most enjoyable thing about listening to instrumental pieces like this. For detractors of instrumental music of this nature all I can say is that having a vocalist and lyrics might actually be a negative and take away from the songs themselves.
The production on ‘Road Less Traveled is exceptional. It’s clean and mixed perfectly. When you can hear every instrument distinctly and catch every nuance in the songs it’s been done right. Kevin Aiello’s drumming is a refreshing change of pace from the double bass and blast beats I’ve been used to listening to the past few years. It’s just pure drumming with the right amount of tempo changes and fills. Damien Sisson’s bass lines are solid and add the right amount of anchor to Eric Barnett’s fluid soloing and riffing.
Do yourself a favor and pick up a copy of Road Less Traveled. The album is a stark reminder that the rock music world is sorely lacking of anything with soul and a pure love of the music itself. There are no gimmicks or an attempt to dazzle with technical proficiency, it’s just pure feel good music for the benefit of being music. Go to Amazon and pick up a copy. Here is quality footage Points North playing the ballad on the album ‘The Source’.