Music Industry News Network [06-02-2011]

New Aaron Comess CD Earns Raves: “Engagingly Dramatic, Wildly Entertaining”, “A Complicated, Concurrent Brilliance”



“A complicated, concurrent brilliance”

“Engagingly dramatic, wildly entertaining”

“This may be instrumental rock at its base, but if it is, it clearly demonstrates the creative variety skilled musicians can build on that base”

The Track “Past, Present and Future”…quite literally, comes crashing down in a heap of feedback, cymbal bashing and shuddering reverb. It’s one of the loudest, best things on a very interesting record”

“Builds in intensity and style, adding funk and volume until it's ready to blow out the top”

Relix, Modern Drummer and More National Coverage in the works, as Aaron Comess Earns Early Raves for Upcoming Instrumental Rock Album, ‘Beautiful Mistake’

Rave early reviews have preceded the June 14th release of drummer/guitarist/composer/producer Aaron Comess’ powerful new CD, ‘Beautiful Mistake’. Veteran writer Jack Goodstein praises via BLOGCRITICS, “This may be instrumental rock at its base, but if it is, it clearly demonstrates the creative variety skilled musicians can build on that base.” In recent weeks, critics have described the music as “engagingly dramatic, wildly entertaining,” as having “a complicated, concurrent brilliance,” and have focused on specific tracks as building “in intensity and style, adding funk and volume until it's ready to blow out the top.” The track “Past, Present and Future”…quite literally, comes crashing down in a heap of feedback, cymbal bashing and shuddering reverb. It’s one of the loudest, best things on a very interesting record.” Comess will celebrate the release of the album with a June 30th concert at Rockwood Music Hall in New York City.

For Comess, who wrote and produced the album, ‘Beautiful Mistake’ marks an opportunity to step out of the shadows of his many notable collaborative efforts, and into the spotlight. He deftly creates sweeping songs that are emotive without words, leaving his commanding drum work and the ‘voice’ of his band’s electric guitar (Teddy Kumpel) and bass (Richard Hammond) to weave a dramatic soundscape. Listen to streaming samples, here:

Comess is the drummer and a founding member of the multi-platinum-selling SPIN DOCTORS, and is currently on a U.S. tour with the band, having recently wrapped up a major round of European concerts. Look for more Spin Doctors dates to be announced for this Summer and Fall, as the band celebrates the 20th Anniversary of their smash CD ‘Pocket Full of Kryptonite’. Comess will soon head into the studio to work on Joan Osborne’s new CD, as well as Edie Brickell’s. He is a musician’s musician, long respected as a collaborator who has played on, co-written and/or produced over two hundred albums with an acclaimed and diverse roster of artists including Osborne, Isaac Hayes, Marc Cohn, Bilal, Rachael Yamagata, James Maddock and more. In addition to the Brickell CD, other upcoming and/or recent work includes Phil Ramone, Andrea Bocelli, David Foster, Malcolm Burn and Natasha Bedingfield. Comess is active in the local NYC rock, jazz, experimental music scenes and singer songwriter circuits, and records and produces at his ‘His House Studio’ in the East Village. As a member of the band New York Electric Piano, Comess recently had a Top 10 CD on the CMJ charts.

Upcoming coverage of ‘Beautiful Mistake’ will include Relix Magazine, Modern Drummer and more.

Here is a sampling of recent reviews:


In an interview with Modern Drummer in support of their 2005 album, Nice Talking to Me, Spin Doctor founding member, Aaron Comess, describing his different personalities as a drummer says: "I’ve always felt like your first thing as a drummer is to serve the music, whatever the style or song or group of people you’re playing with. You really have to adapt. Unfortunately there are a lot of musicians who just show up and say, 'This is the way I am, this is what I do, and you better adapt to me.' I think the best music happens when everybody is listening to each other and making the proper adjustments to make the whole group sound good. That’s what music is all about." An eclectic sessions performer, his diverse discography includes albums with Marc Cohn, Joan Osborne, Rachel Yamagata, James Maddock, and New York Electric Piano among many others. While he acknowledges that he might be best known for his work with the Spin Doctors, that is really only one side of his musical personality. He is more than comfortable with everything from rock to jazz. Beautiful Mistake, a new instrumental album, following the 2006 Catskill Cry, to be released in June, is testimony to just a few of the drummer's many sides. The album's fourteen songs, all written by Comess, build multiple variations on a basic rock foundation. There is low down blues in "Bubble Blues." There is an almost Middle Eastern vibe in parts of the title song, "Beautiful Mistake." There are Latin rhythms in "Past, Present and Future." There are experimental riffs in "Limbo." This may be instrumental rock at its base, but if it is, it clearly demonstrates the creative variety skilled musicians can build on that base. "I try to make music that speaks like a song even without words," Comess says, "where the melody plays like a voice, but with plenty of room for improvisation." Listen to the lush melodic lines in "Kumpelicious" and "Morning Beach" or the quirky "Catskills Last Waltz" and the darker version in "Dirt" (on which Comess also plays guitar) and you can hear what he's talking about. Melody dominates in much the way a vocal would, but the guitar is always given the opportunity to stretch that melody's nuances. Rhythmic changes in songs like "Unleash the Beast," which moves towards a cacophonous climax reminiscent of Ravel's "Bolero," add an exciting level of complexity to the music which contrasts vividly with the album's softer moments. Whether it’s the funky "High Five" or the sweetly melodic "I Love You," Comess writes songs that linger in your ear long after the iPod is turned off. Joining Comess is Teddy Kumpel on guitar and "things with strings" according to the album jacket. Richard Hammond plays bass. Besides the compelling percussion that distinguishes the album, Comess also plays guitar, not only on "Dirt," but also on "Limbo" and "High Five." Tracks from Beautiful Mistake can be sampled on on Comess' website. Also appeared in major daily SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER and in numerous other outlets: – SNEAK PEEK TRACK
May 22, 2011 By Nick DeRiso“past-present-and-future”-2011/  

Something Else Sneak Peek: “Past, Present and Future” (2011)

If “Past, Present and Future” from drummer/composer Aaron Comess, a founding member of the Grammy-nominated, 10-million album-selling Spin Doctors, sounds like two people talking at once, that’s kind of the point. “I try to make music that speaks like a song, even without words,” Comess has said, “where the melody plays like a voice, but with plenty of room for improvisation.”

So, yeah, there is a complicated, concurrent brilliance to this, the third track on the forthcoming album Beautiful Mistake. It’s as if Comess and guitarist Teddy Kumpel (Rickie Lee Jones, Marshall Crenshaw, Chris Barron) are at work on a pair of very heart-felt songs at the same time. Comess is charging ahead, hitting multiple rhythms, encircling and then darting away. The impishly creative Kumpel, meanwhile, is lost in a space-age blues, then in a soaring prog-rock excursion, then in a sawing, almost angry psychedelia.

Holding it all together is bassist Richard Hammond, whose bouncing, insistent bottom-end is perhaps the only thing framing this engagingly dramatic, wildly entertaining excursion. Kumpel eventually settles into a series of knifing guitar licks, as Comess leans into his kit. “Past, Present and Future” then, quite literally, comes crashing down in a heap of feedback, cymbal bashing and shuddering reverb. It’s one of the loudest, best things on a very interesting record.

Recorded at Comess’ own His House Studio in New York City’s East Village, “Past, Present and Future” is part of a 14-song set of original instrumental sides set to be issued on June 14. Comess will also tour with the Spin Doctors this summer as the band celebrates the 20th anniversary of its smash hit Pocket Full of Kryptonite.

By Wildy Haskell, May 27, 2011

Aaron Comess is a multi-instrumentalist, composer and producer who has collaborated with the likes of Joan Osborne, David Foster, Phil Ramone, Isaac Hayes, Chris Whitley, Marc Cohn and Natasha Bedingfield (among others). You might remember Comess as a founding member of The Spin Doctors (drums). However you may have crossed musical paths with Aaron Comess, there can be no doubt that his talents have aided and abetted some pretty big names in the music business. On June 14, 2011, Comess releases his second solo instrumental album, Beautiful Mistake.

Opening with "Truth", Comess starts listeners off in mellow, thoughtful tones. Guitar is the lead voice here, imparting a sort of stodgy melodicism that is more fluid and lyric than it first appears. "Beautiful Mistake" is a deceptive and archaic waltz that occasional breaks into a swing beat. Bass and percussion create a rhythmic bed that is entrancing, while Comess has his way with your ears in a guitar sound that's part Prince and part Eric Johnson. Comess builds all of this into a rollicking jam that sweeps you up in its pure joy. "Past Present & Future" builds on a polyrhythmic feel with quirky guitar sounds, sounding like a compositional study in rhythmic aberrations. It's entertaining and offbeat, and could be taken as run through with a wicked sense of humor.

Comess drops into mellow rumination for "Kumpelicious", delving into some vaguely Hendrix-style riffs in a mellow side-trip of sound. "Castkills Last Waltz" is jaunty and fun, with something a swing sensibility built loosely into the arrangement. What will really catch your ear here is Comess' phrasing on the guitar. Comess transcends technical competence to that thing they call "touch" or "feel", bending notes to his will while giving himself over entirely to muse here, and even the simple becomes sublime. Just to make up for that, Comess pulls a complete left turn into the bowels of garage rock for "Dirt", an angular and distorted bit of fun that serves as a perfect counter to the pure essence it follows.

"Limbo" sounds like a blend of Steve Howe and Greg Kihn; funky and full of a bubbling energy. The exceptional guitar work here is punctuated by rhythms and sounds that begin by distracting and slowly enmesh themselves into the creation that is the song. Comess tries his hand at gothic-style film scoring on "Unleash The Beast", a messy-but-fun composition that gets points for style and pure chutzpah. "Lullabye" serves as a spoiler, a sweet, flowing melody as a moment of piece in the maelstrom of creation imparted on Beautiful Mistake. The moment of peace is over quickly, however, as Comess launches into the muscular-yet-atmospheric "High Five". What starts out as a straight forward composition builds in intensity and style, adding funk and volume until it's ready to blow out the top.

"Stinky" is an edgy new-age pop instrumental. Mild-mannered, but rough enough around the edges to not quite fit into the traditional new age category. Comess answers back with "Bubble Blues", which is bathed in distortion and reverb. It doesn't really add a lot to the album, but is an interesting diversion that leads into the spritely sweet closing track, "I Love You". Everything flows at the end, as Comess has save his purest melodic moment for last.

Beautiful Mistake is a pleasant surprise. So many pop/rock instrumental albums out there rely on cyclical arrangements and blind creation, often resulting in repetitive or derivative creations that seem anathema to the creative process. Comess has structured Beautiful Mistake with an ear for musical diversity and progression, forcing himself continually over new ground rather than recapturing the same harmonic and melodic fields again and again. Not every moment here will work for every listener, but Comess keeps things original and new throughout the album. Consequently, those will listen complacently will miss a lot. Rating 3.5 stars (Out of 5) Learn more about Aaron Comess at or Beautiful Mistake drops on CD on June 14, 2011. The album is already available digitally from or iTunes.

The key Alt weekly in Rochester, FREE TIMES, highlighted Comess and Beautiful Mistake preview column for a recent Joan Osborne appearance:  
Heading to the Lilac Fest to catch Joan Osborne on May 22? Then, you’ll also want to check out respected drummer/guitarist/composer/producer Aaron Comess who performs as part of her band. Comess has recently stepped out of the shadows and into the spotlight in his own right, recording a new rock instrumental CD, Beautiful Mistake, due for release on June 14. The album also features guitarist Teddy Kumpel and bassist Richard Hammond.

Comess has successfully navigated the tricky music industry for over 20 years, managing to keep his original band together, build an active career as a sideman/session player/producer, and make his own records as a composer/leader. With ‘Beautiful Mistake’, he shines as a songwriter and continues to distinguish himself. Comess comments on the process of creating ‘Beautiful Mistake’, his second instrumental CD: “I try to make music that speaks like a song even without words…where the melody plays like a voice, but with plenty of room for improvisation. I wrote all the music on guitar, and I’m grateful for how well Teddy and Rich interpreted it.”

Visit Comess’ impressive and eclectic Discography to get a sense of the wide range of projects he’s been involved with over the years, from Chris Whitley’s final album to Joan Osborne’s ‘Righteous Love’ to a dozen releases as a member of Spin Doctors:

Aaron Comess Tour Schedule:
June 4         Spin Doctors        Tupelo Festival              Tupelo, MS
June 5-10    Edie Brickell          Recording Session                  NYC
June 17       Paula Valstein       Rockwood Stage 2                NYC
June 18-21  Joan Osborne        Recording Session                  NYC
June 22       Joan Osborne        Woodland Park              Seattle, WA
June 23       Joan Osborne        Oregon Zoo                   Portland, OR
June 24 & 28 James Maddock Record Release Show    Rockwood Stage 2 NYC
Rockwood Music Hall Stage 2                                    NYC
July 3          Spin Doctors        Riverfest-Riverside Park  La Crosse, WI
July 9          Spin Doctors        TBA                              Jakarta, Indonesia
July 12        Luke Dick             Rockwood  Stage1       ]        NYC
July 16        James Maddock    Great South Bay Fest     Long Island, NY
July 25        James Maddock    Bowery Ballroom           NYC
Aug 5                  Spin Doctors        Sheboygan Brat Days     Sheboygan, WI
Aug 11       James Maddock    World Financial Ctr Fest New York, NY
Aug 13       Spin Doctors        Royal Kona Resort                  Kona, HI
Aug 20       Spin Doctors        Royal Lahaina Resort     Maui, HI
Aug 23       Spin Doctors        Foxwoods Resort          Mashantucket, CT
Aug 25       Spin Doctors        Hard Rock Hotel            Orlando, FL

All upcoming dates, here:



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