Formula 5: All Points North
Formula 5 are a tenacious jamband who have grown far beyond their native Upstate New York. On their latest studio project All Points North, they wear their influences on their sleeves, blending spirited classic-jam rock à la God Street Wine with jamtronica and playful, deceptively dark lyrics reminiscent of the Anastasio/Marshall songbook. (They even met their drummer waiting in line for Phish tickets.) And while Formula 5’s inspirations are evident, they aren’t egregious. In fact, their nods to jam pioneers are refreshingly honest. “The Birch Tree” may remind you of Phish’s “Guyute,” but coming in at just a little over seven minutes long, it morphs into a unique smooth jazz homage, showcasing keyboardist Matt Richards, drummer Greg Marek and guest trumpeter Philippe Chow. Guitarist Joe Davis shines on “Excalibur,” where he leads his band toward jammy bliss, and throughout the record, bassist James Woods keeps this runaway train on the rails. All Points North is the quartet’s third studio effort, and they’ve said it’s their most mature. At first pass, it’s difficult to describe a young, vibrant band like this as “mature,” but they do show their sensitive side on the penultimate track “Do Tell” and display their technical prowess on the sweeping instrumental “Trout Waters Pt. I & II.” Between this record and their relentless touring schedule, it’s evident that Formula 5 have their eyes set on bigger stages, larger crowds and heavier jams. Like their musical heroes, they are primed to impress you in the studio but truly delight you onstage.