New York’s Off The Turnpike are fairly early in their journey as a band, but they’re quickly finding a niche in the East Coast Rock scene. Formed in 2011, Andy Sexton (Vocals), Christian Vasquez (Guitar), Shawn Abraham (Bass), and Steve Kurlat (Drums) have been honing their sound into the unique blend that you’ll find on their self titled debut album.
“Off The Turnpike” covers a fair amount of ground musically, but certain characteristics seem to find their way through to nicely tie everything together. Never absent are Andy Sexton’s passion charged vocals along with the raunchy, impossible to miss guitar of Christian Vasquez. In the tempo department Shawn Abraham thumps out some distinctive bass notes to go along with Kurlat’s clean drumwork.
Most of “Off The Turnpike” resides in a forceful, fast rock world. You’ll find signs of this in songs like the opener “Boxer” and “The Hitchhiker” that embody Sexton’s high energy vocals and the biting guitar of Vasquez. Vasquez’s guitar has a dirty, raspy sound to it throughout the album that single handedly transports you to the New York scene. It gives many of the songs on ‘Off The Turnpike’ an imposing, unapologetic posture, and that’s a place where this band thrives.
Tempo and speed changes are a big part of Off The Turnpike’s repertoire. They’re far from afterthoughts and that is something that OTTP makes abundantly clear through the frantically paced bassline on “Uncertainty”. Abraham immediately drives the song's tempo and mood to another realm with Kurlat’s beats in tow right behind him. The spotlight is clearly on Kurlat and Abraham on this track and they deliver in spades. That feeling easily carries over along with some of Sexton’s healthy screams on “Waste”, ‘Pins and Needles”, and “Ghost House” (A track where Kurlat flat out shines)
“Sway” is a bit of a teaser track in that it starts out quite basic before finding bursts of energy for the chorus, it’s a song that keeps you on your toes as it builds on Vasquez’s heavy riffs. The true slowdown comes for OTTP on “The Cold”, a ballad that opens with amazing lead guitar intro that evolves into a smooth and catchy song thanks to the tempered intensity of Sexton’s vocals. Similarly, “Claire” has a different feel to it thanks to the heavy, bluesy bass line pulled in by Abraham.
At the tail end of the album is “The Devil’s Time Is Night”, a song that you can almost feel them assembling as they go. Following a lone guitar in the intro, it slowly builds with the addition of Abraham’s bass and Kurlat’s drums until Vasquez pushes it over the edge with a chunky riff from his guitar. This track seems to ebb and flow more than any other on the album. Just when you think it is gearing itself down, Vasquez tweaks it back up a few levels with his screaming six string. As subtle as this song is at parts of its six minute journey, “The Devil’s Time is Night” is packed with some of the most aggressive rock you will find on the album. The song and the album wrap with all four members of OTTP at full throttle as they bring ‘The Devil Is Night” in for a big finale. The end is abrupt, but absolutely appropriate.
For a band that has only been playing and writing together for about a year, Off The Turnpike have quickly and successfully found a good identity for their New York Rock stylings. This debut record is a fabulous indicator of what is to come from the band that (As they like to put it) has the goal of resurrecting the dormant New York Rock scene. With music like this, it’s certainly possible.
Click to hear a few tracks from Off The Turnpike
As the Webmaster and Founder of Rocksposure.com, Chris Brach is always looking for new music from up and coming rock bands. You never know, they could be our next Artist of the Month! If there is something you think he should give a listen to, email him at GetRocked@Rocksposure.com.