“Interstellar Fortuneteller” is the second release from Hamilton, New Jersey rockers Charles Laurita and The Mischief.
Released in the fall of 2017, this follow up to their self-titled debut is not only a rarity in that it’s a concept album but it was also cut in two studios; one of which was built with their own hands.“We started out with a local studio and then we decided to finish it on our own.Will (Drummer Sarver) and I built a studio ourselves and we’re happy with how it all turned out,” said a candid Laurita as he explained the process.
The band as it exists today has undergone several personnel changes since the CD was completed. The cast of mischief makers may be different but the product itself is a well done second effort that deserves to find its way into ones auditory library. Mixing Charles’s funk/blues style guitar with driving rhythms and a top notch horn section has become the trademark of this group and we are getting more of the same both on the album and on stage with the revamped line up.
“Alone”is the opening cut and starts off with dubbed in wind. Sounding as if one has just awoken from a coma and found themselves solo on an abandoned outpost, the mood is compounded by a chain or key rattling effect followed by a Chandler Scales sax riff reminiscent of a lone subway performer; giving way to a halted Laurita vocal line. The music crescendos but Charles keeps the mood somewhat low key with a few exceptions as the horns of Scales, Sean Joyce (trumpet) and baritone sax player Tommy Allen build a neat accented base underneath it all. This tune features one of the few guitar solos on the disc which this reviewer finds to be one of its few flaws as Laurita can shred with the best.
Track 2 is, “Lose My Mind”and it starts with drums and a swell of horns that quickly become a studded rhythm and the opening line, “I Must’ve died when I was 10 years old. I’m best described as a dead man’s soul.” This blues based offering features another nice guitar solo with timed accents from the rest of the band; showing why they are one of the best live acts on the circuit today.
“Break The City Down” is the first track where Laurita gets his patented funk on and is a nice change of pace. Pay attention to the chorus as Sarver and bassist Kenny Hamilton get a great syncopated groove on and oh yeah; there’s a hot horn riff in the middle as well.
Track #4 is, “Out There Starlight” and nicely combines all of the elements of the band and will definitely cause some toe tapping. Here too, the bass and drums drive the tune a bit more than Laurita’s guitar which is mixed evenly throughout but it’s the use of the horns that carries this one.
Up Next is, “How To Fly” and this up tempo number has a throwback feel as if to the big band or speak easy era of prohibition. Jitterbug material for those old enough to remember that classic dance and definitely a challenge to anyone who thinks they can sit still for its duration.
Track #6, “Wicked Little Thing;” yup, that just about covers it.
“Talk To Me” comes in at #7 and is a return to the funky style that is the band’s trademark; “Tell me what you’re feeling, come on baby talk to me. “ Here Sarver does some great tom work with nifty trumpet accents through the sax ride in the middle.
“Lying On the Floor” is a dirty ditty with some well-placed harmonies and showcases Joyce on the trumpet. The bridge features an en mass transition that comes full circle back to the original rhythm. The only issue with this one is that it ends too soon.
Track #9 is titled, “Shut Your Mouth And Dance” and this too is another that gets funky and offers up some well-timed syncopation. Laurita does a solo briefly reminiscent of the one in Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean” but quickly diverges into pure Charles. This could easily become a fan favorite if one were apt to make such a difficult choice.
“Ridley” is a semi-instrumental based somewhat loosely on Sigourney Weaver’s character in the “Alien” movie series. Pay attention and see why it’s not completely an instrumental. “Shape I’m In” is a change of pace and gives the listener a chance to catch a breath. This could be likened to driving through a construction zone; not full speed but just slow enough to get on by.
Track #12 is, “Make It Out Alive” and is bottom heavy with bass and drums at the beginning but unfortunately they get somewhat buried in the mix. The call and answer section between Laurita and the horns however, is superb.
The Last cut, “Skin & Bones” is a perfect closer and like most of this disc is a total group effort. Laurita readily admits that he wanted this second release to be more of a, “Whole band” sound and to his and their credit they’ve accomplished just that.
Currently, the band has two new faces; Mike Farrell on alto sax and Steve Scarafile on bass who have replaced Tommy Allen and Kenny Hamilton respectively and done so without as much as a hiccup and continue to make Charles Laurita & The Mischief one of the best live bands around.