Record review roundup: When Particles Collide, Chamberlain and Mama’s Boomshack

particlesWhen Particles Collide — Photoelectric

Though it’s technically their fourth release — there was an EP and an LP in 2012, and another EP, “Ego,” out last fall — “Photoelectric” feels like the first big statement from Bangor-via-New Hampshire duo When Particles Collide. It feels like a proper rock album, because it is, with professional production polish applied by folks at The Halo studio in Windham. It fully realizes what Sasha Alcott and Chris Viner have been working on for the past three years, throwing radio-friendly vocal hooks, tough-but-tender lyrics and massive, virtuosic drums into a blender and hitting pulverize. Though “Photoelectric” is very accessible and driven by Alcott’s pop songwriting chops and muscular riffage, it’s Viner’s deft rhythmic touch that makes the band unique. Two years of touring have given the pair the freedom to be playful and experimental. Lead single “Constant Disaster” may be clothed in a delicious pop-punk candy shell, but inside lies a rhythmic and melodic core that’s rooted in Alcott and Viner’s dynamic partnership, with elements of jazz and metal creeping in on that song and others, like “Lean In Closer” and “Something.” The band this summer is on a tour that’s taking them from Boston to Los Angeles and back again; who knows what new songs (or new record deals) they’ll have on hand when they return to Northern New England in mid-August?

When Particles Collide plays in Maine next on Saturday, Aug. 15 at Harborfest on the Belfast Waterfront.

chamberlainChamberlain — Late Nights, Early Mornings

Bangor-based four piece band Chamberlain doesn’t pretend to be anything other than what it is: a good time party band that also happens to write effortlessly fun pop songs. Their new EP, “Late Nights, Early Mornings,” takes off where their first EP left off, with a similar sound thanks to Bangor producer Joshua Strange, who also recorded their first one. Though there’s danceable tracks like “Like Fire,” there’s also uniquely touching songs like “Waterfalls,” which encapsulates much about what makes Chamberlain fun: a good beat you can dance to, guitar pyrotechnics and lyrics that are simultaneously swaggering, sweet, and sad. Where their earlier album was almost entirely comprised of upbeat, drink-along anthems, “Late Nights” finds the band in a more contemplative mood, swapping shouted vocals and Chris Dodd’s searing guitar riffs for a slightly slower tempo, atmospheric New Wave-esque synthesizers and more impressionistic guitar work, and a more subdued, heartfelt effort from singer Kat Johnson. If their first self-titled EP was actually about those parties and those late nights, then this one is about those early mornings, when you see things in the cold, sober light of day.

Chamberlain will play next in Maine on Saturday, Aug. 2 at Dam Jam 2014 in Denmark.

boomshackMama’s Boomshack — Speed of Soul

The first thing that’s really cool about Portland ensemble Mama’s Boomshack’s new album “Speed of Soul” is that you know this band has got to be one hell of a live band; a seven-piece soul and funk outfit comprised of hungry young musicians and seasoned professionals? This requires a dance floor and a cocktail in hand to be properly appreciated. The second thing that’s cool is that these are all original songs; nary a cover or retread to be found, and recorded with the inestimable producer Jonathan Wyman. The dual lead singer attack of sax players Todd Regoulinsky and Lisa Brundage brings to mind another Portland big band; the Fogcutters, of which Boomshack trombonist James Hebert is also a member. But where the Fogcutters are expansive and lean more towards the jazz side of things, Mama’s Boomshack is straight up, tightly wound funk, as on the irresistible “The Other Woman” or the brash “Back to School,” driven by guitarist Sam Berce. This is sexy, elegant funk and soul, meant for fans of bands like Tower of Power or Earth Wind & Fire; fun for all ages and expertly played.

Mama’s Boomshack will play a CD release party for “Speed of Soul” on Saturday, July 5 at One Longfellow Square in Portland.

Emily Burnham

About Emily Burnham

Emily Burnham is a Maine native, UMaine graduate, proud Bangorian and a writer for the Bangor Daily News, where she's worked since 2004. She reports on everything from local bands to local food to all the cool things going on in the Greater Bangor area. In her quest for stories, she's seen countless concerts and plays, been lobster fishing, interviewed celebrities, hung out with water buffalo and played in a ukulele orchestra. She's interested in everything that happens in Maine.