When I purchased my tickets to see Coheed and Cambria for the 8th time earlier this year, I saw who would be opening for them. As I always do, I checked out their material online to see what I was in for. Sadly, most opening acts go seemingly unnoticed when touring with bigger bands. For the first time in a while, though, I am genuinely excited to see Coheed’s opening act, Thank You Scientist.
Hailing from New Jersey, Thank You Scientist consists of Salvatore Marrano on vocals, Tom Monda on guitar, Greg Colacino on bass guitar, and Odin Alvarez on drums. Standing out amongst other rock bands in my iTunes Library, these guys go one step further, adding Ben Karas on violin, Ellis Jasenovic on saxophone, and Andrew Digrius on trumpet. Having formal training in classical and jazz music, one can easily hear the musicality and genius in their work. Using elements of progressive rock, math rock, funk, jazz, and folk rock, Thank You Scientist is able to put together one eclectic album in “Maps of Non-Existent Places.”
The listener can tell they’re in for an interesting experience early, as the brass section is introduced after a short interlude. While you check your album cover to make sure you didn’t put in an Rx Bandits album on accident, Marrano and Monda work together fantastically to create a very poppy, yet unique verse section to nail the listener to their seat. What proceeds from this point on is 58 minutes of the most interesting, unique, and innovative combination of instruments. After the required amount of listens it takes to wrap one’s head around this album, here’s a brief summary of what I have to say about this talented group of musicians.
The drumbeats are loud and technical throughout “Maps of Non-Existent Places.” Alvarez does an amazing job creating intricate drumbeats to add to the uniqueness of the band’s sound. Relying on the deeper sounds of bass pedals and the snare drum, the beats in “Blood on the Radio” are my favorite on this album. With the math rock like sound that the band generates, Alvarez is able to perfectly complement the remaining instruments.
Greg Colacino does a great job on the bass guitar. The first few times I listened to this album, I was so awestruck with the brass instruments that I entirely neglected listening to the other instruments. As I do with most albums I listen to, I decided to focus in on one instrument, the first being the bass guitar. I was stunned when I heard Colacino’s ability to create some really funky bass lines. The song “Concrete Swan Dive” shows him at his best, creating an added element to the already insane atmosphere.
Marrano provides amazing vocals and lyrics on this album, using a wide range and delivery. Songs like “Carnival” are interesting to hear his voice jump around from deep lows to souring highs. His voice is so unique that I’m having a hard time comparing it to anyone else. Comment below if you can think of anyone!
The guitar work provided by Monda is eclectic, ranging from sounds like Fall of Troy to Circa Survive. Monda uses a variety of sound throughout the album, ranging from clean guitar patterns in intros, to deep palm-muted riffs in choruses, to tapping in solos. I love the use of guitar in the entire song “My Famed Disappearing Act,” which shows the use of all three previously mentioned. Added in with the numerous instruments in this band, Monda is able to shine without taking away too much of the spotlight from the other members of the band.
What obviously makes this album different than any other progressive rock albums is the use of a brass section and violin. Thank You Scientist is able to incorporate such unique and different instruments into their album without making it stand out like a sore thumb. In fact, the songs where they are most prevalent happen to be some of my favorite songs on the album. The songs “Suspicious Waveforms” and “Absentee” display Karas, Jasenovic, and Digrius at their finest, especially the alternating solos in “Suspicious Waveforms.” This song is a highlight of the album, showing the musicianship and technicality of this band as a whole.
Moral of the story: this album is insane. I understand that my breakdown of each instrument is limited due to time and length restraints, and doesn’t do this album the justice it deserves. This album is best understood when listened to instead of when read about. With a wide range of musical influences, along with extremely intricate and technical time signature changes, “Maps of Non-Existent Places” is an interesting addition to any progressive rock catalog. I highly recommend this album to anyone who listens to rock music in general, as Thank You Scientist covers their bases when it comes to style. I have no doubts that this band has a bright future ahead of them, and I’m eager to await any future releases they have in store. Please support this band as they tour across North America with Coheed and Cambria. In a related note, please support their album under their new record label Evil Ink Records, created by Coheed frontman Claudio Sanchez.