Tommy Alto: Atlas \\ Patterson EP

[5 September 2014]

By Zachary Houle

An Algebra Equation

Let’s just get one thing out of the way: Tommy Alto is a band, not a person. The group hails from Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, and have a very mathy sound on their latest EP, Atlas \\ Patterson. Tempos are as slippery as an eel, and there are odd changes in time signatures of the sort that might make Rush’s Neil Peart envious. It’s unassailable music, even if the vocals are a little plain and, for some oddball reason, remind me of an oldie Vancouver band called Doug and the Slugs. Still, this EP is powerful enough and worthy of your investment. Basically, if you like herky-jerky music, Tommy Alto has just the tonic for you. There are enough starts and stops that would make this impossible to drive to, as you’d be hitting the brakes suddenly every now and then. If that sounds like the kind of thing for you, then Tommy Alto is your man. Well, band.

There are moments on the EP when the band sounds a little Vampire Weekend-ish, and other moments where they come off as sounding like late-period Police, possibly even nudging into Sting’s solo jazz-based work. And “Crowsnest” sounds a little Paul Simon-esque in his Graceland period. All the while, the band navigates the hair-pin curves of their unique sound. There’s nothing here to particularly dislike about the band, however, Atlas \\ Patterson sometimes comes across as a little too math-based for its own good, letting the musical showmanship get in the way of a good song. However, if you’re into art rock in any remote way, you’re bound to enjoy the boundless pleasures that Tommy Alto has to offer. Definitely a band worth keeping tabs on, this group takes listeners on a musical journey into sonically adventurous territory for those inclined to come along for the wild and brazen ride.

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