Stumbling into a crowded Rockwood Music Hall on a typical New York summer night, I was taken aback by the sheer tenacity and drive of the band nestled in the corner of the room. Unlike the three-chord punch that comes from any typical rock and roll outfit, these guys were bringing some serious musicianship into the world. “Who are these guys?”
Only later did bassist/lead singer Daniel Tortoleno introduce himself and his band, The Highway. Five years in the making, the group made their album debut in 2010 and haven’t looked back. Earlier this year, the group released their follow-up LP, Enter To Exit. If you’re not buying my enthusiasm, check out the single “Lose Control” below:
See what I mean?
Recently, the group had the opportunity to support Workman Song (aka Sean McMahon) in an opening set before Sean Lennon (John Lennon’s son) and his band Ghost Of A Saber Tooth Tiger at the Brooklyn Bowl. (Brooklyn Vegan’s recap here). It’s not the typical billing for a “jam band”, so to speak, but that never stopped The Highway from plugging on with their unique psychedelic funk vibes. As New York has a rich indie rock scene, it’s almost as if The Highway hasn’t realized the potential of their own jammitude. Almost.
The band’s biography reveals some of their inner workings. “The result of their collaboration is a singular sound—one that has the ability to
completely take you over,” it reads. “Adding psychedelic arrangements and soulful lyrics…they infect with potent nostalgia. They elicit a feeling of having discovered something entirely new. Their songs ebb and flow, often building to a riot—a well-crafted wall of sound, punctuated by the tweaked out echoes of dreams and philosophical spoken lyrics.”
Check them out at Arlene’s Grocery, from earlier in 2015:
So where does this unique band fit in the grand tapestry of musical classification?
In the end, I’ve realized that it’s not really necessary to quantify this band’s genre. They’re as content exploring the sonic realms as they are wading in simple progressions, and their genuine passion for the music drives it forward. We may only just be ‘getting to know’ them, but if they keep up their energy and proficiency, the sky’s the limit for The Highway.